Rowland Ward, Piccadilly, Custom Made Game Box covered with thick leather, 1930's
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The English taxidermist and physicist James Rowland Ward (London,1848-1912) learned the trade from his father and founded his own company in London in 1870. "Rowland Ward Limited" offered stuffed mammals and birds for sale, as well as animal trophies – objects that were highly valued in an era of colonialism and love of hunting. In Victorian England, there was also a great interest in so-called "Wardian furniture". This term refers to the odd pieces of furniture that James Rowland Ward assembled from parts of animals. He made, for example, a liquor cabinet from an elephants' foot.
The box with games, made of thick leather, is provided with a deck of playing cards, requirements and instructions for all sorts of card games. The great gadget must be seen in the light of this fashion for the exotic. The lock of this box bears the name 'F. Rest, Maker' with the addresses' 64A S. Audley Street' (Mayfair) and '199 Sloane Street'. In the 1930s, Rowland Ward developed a treatment for rhino skins which turned them into semi-opaque material that could be polished, creating a very thick, slightly flexible plastic-like material (orange in colour). An expert in Rowland Ward pieces has concluded that this technique is used to bind our box. Unfortunately, the package is not mentioned in catalogues nor in advertisements of the time of Ward.
Presumably, it is a costly, custom-made game box intended to take with you on a trip. It is unquestionable a unique item that certainly gives card games a luxury touch!