The new Game of the Ascent of Mont Blanc.

London, printed by Hall, 43, South Molton St., [c. 1855–57].

Coloured lithographed game sheet (440 x 570 mm), in 18 sections in 3 strips of 6, linen backed, title at foot, ‘Charles Warren delt’ to bottom left, imprint to bottom right, 50 numbered squares in a spiral pattern, 4 vignettes to corners; some foxing, a little wear to edges, creasing to corners of some sections, a few numbers written in pencil; overall good, folding into original 8vo boards (175 x 110 mm) of green textured cloth, covers stamped in blind, upper cover lettered in gilt ‘The game of the ascent of Mont Blanc’, traces of green silk ties, light brown endpapers; very slightly rubbed and marked; without the accompanying printed rule booklet, teetotum, game pieces, and box; formerly in the possession of Albert Smith’s sister Laura Eady.


US $4869€4459

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Rare first edition of this attractive board game based on Smith’s ascent of Mont Blanc on 12 August 1851. Upon his return, Smith opened a stage show based on his experiences at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, mixing dramatic description, song, illustrations, and even St Bernard dogs. It was a sensational success, running for six years and earning Smith a fortune alongside associated merchandise including games such as this one. Smith became a founder member of the Alpine Club in 1857.

This game takes players from the Egyptian Hall to Tunbridge, Folkstone, and Dover, then across the Channel to Boulogne, Amiens, and Paris (to which eight squares are devoted, including views of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and Les Invalides). From the French capital the journey continues to Dijon, Geneva, Martigny, Great St Bernard Hospice, and Chamonix, with climbing starting in earnest with the Aiguille du Midi, the Bossons and Taconnaz glaciers, the Grands Mulet Hut, the Mur de la Côte, and finally the ‘summit of Mont Blanc’.

There is plenty of charming detail along the way: ‘a cup of coffee’, ‘a warm bath’, the dungeon at Chillon Castle (complete with prisoner), St Bernard dogs, wading through waist-deep ‘soft snow’, and several slides backwards.

Piero Nava, formerly of the Alpine Club, gives a good account of the four different editions of this game (see, catalogue no. 2211), describing this as the first and dating it to between 1855 and 1857. The second edition of 1861 also bears the names of Hall and Warren, adding ‘From C. Adler’s printing establishment Hamburg’, while the third and fourth editions carry the imprint of A.N. Myers of Oxford Street.

This edition not on OCLC or Library Hub. See Cox 11 (‘The first to reach the summit of Mont Blanc took the pool, built up by fines in the game’); Gumuchian, Les livres de l’enfance du XVe au XIXe siècle 3375.

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