Wallis’ Tour Through England & WalesSKU: 9383
Wallis’ Tour Through England & Wales
Date of publication:
1794 (i.e. 1802)
51.5 x 66 cm
A New Geographical Pastime
The elder John Wallis (c. 1745-1818) recovered from bankruptcy to become one of the major publishers of children’s games and puzzles. Most were educational, and in this case players learn by ‘visiting’ towns and cities as they race around the board. For example, Dorchester is ‘the county town famous for its fine strong beer and for its superb county gaol’ (then relatively new, and approved by prison reformer John Howard). At times inspiration seems to have run dry; for example, Stafford is simply ‘the capital of that county’. We also learn that Marlborough (32) boasts one of the finest places to dine in the kingdom; Shrewsbury (59) is famous for its excellent brawn, and Hereford’s (49) cathedral is in danger of speedy ruin.
There are forfeits: players miss two turns for landing on Bath, to enjoy the pump room and the entertainments, and miss two turns to visit the Colleges and Halls of Cambridge University (although Oxford University is ‘esteemed the most noble of any in Europe’ no similar stay is required, which suggests a certain prejudice on Wallis’ part). Landing on Cardigan (number 45) allows a player to move 52 places further along to Scarborough (97), but landing on Beaumaris on Anglesey (63) means going 52 spaces back to Newport on the Isle of Wight (11).
The publication date is December 24 1794 and the game may originally have been intended for the Christmas market. However, the most recent date in the text relates to number 105, Harwich, close to the finish of the game in London (117): the text refers to the arrival of William V, the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, who fled the French invasion of the Netherlands in January 1795. Publication may therefore have been slightly delayed, but in any case our example seems to have been sold some years later. The printed label on the slipcase is dated 1802. Wallis did reissue this game in 1802, but Whitehouse mentions no alterations other than the date. Our example is probably an instance of Wallis using up old stock with the new slipcase.
Condition & Materials
Engraved cartographic table-game, 51.5 x 66 cm, dissected into 16 panels and laid on linen, original hand colour, two columns of rules and town descriptions to left and right margins, lightly finger- and dust-soiled, a few marks and spots, some section edges a little creased and edge-frayed; folding into publisher’s card slipcase, heavily worn, printed label to upper cover.
Whitehouse, Table Games of Georgian and Victorian Days, p.9