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The Percy family games box

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The Percy family name is one that always seems to be mentioned when great deeds are being done throughout the history of England. Percy was Baron Percy and Earl of Northumberland, and had several estates including Alnwick castle. One would not expect this family to have ordered a second-rate box and gaming counters from Canton - and they certainly did not do so. This is one of the most spectacular and unusual boxes that I have seen and one that has been spared largely from the ravages of time. The luxuriant gilding to the outer box features squirrels in trees with the full arms in a central roundel, and most unusually roundels to the sides with alternating designs of birds and butterflies. Inside, the design of the boxes continues the theme of squirrels in trees and also repeats the roundels to the sides of the boxes with birds and butterflies. The trays are in two varieties: deep-welled counter trays - unusually with a design of gilded gaming counters from around 1780 with the billing birds in the 'wavy-edge'style so fashionable at the time; and a non-standard set of flat trays with an un unusual and very well painted series of court cards. And the counters could not possibly come as a disappointment after these extravagances: they are in four shapes - clearly a very special order - all in the large size and made from the finest, brightest mother-of-pearl; all with the full quarterly Percy arms including supporters, with the family motto Esperance en Dieu and the crest of a lion statant with tail extended, on a chapeau. This is a spectacularl box and counters made for a very special family in around 1810.

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