The Royal Game of the Assembling of the Nations is a board game celebrating the gathering of many nations at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. This board game depicts locational images of the many different nations that contributed to the Great Exhibition. The circular nature of the game places the Crystal Palace at the center of the board game and, while it is difficult to know for sure, the objective of the game appears to emphasize ending up at the Crystal Palace in London at the center of the board.
This souvenir board game demonstrates the importance of family and a turn towards leisure during the Victorian era of Britain. Victorian Britain was a society that highly idealized the family and was considered “a nation of children” because a large percentage of the population, over 35 percent, was younger than fifteen during most of the nineteenth century (Frost 3). As the society became more industrialized and urbanized, people had more opportunity for leisure activities and family members “depended on one another for fun” (Frost 79).
Thanks to this more industrialized society that was less focused on agriculture, Victorian Britain began to see a rise of the “middle class” that straddled the divide between the wealthy aristocracy and the lower manual labor class. These middle class families had higher income and more time for leisure (Mitchell, 18-20), which brought forth a proliferation of recreational activities including parlor games and board games. Games that had been traditionally played in wealthy homes began to become popular in the more suburban houses of the middle class. (Beaver 14-15) Many of today’s games have foundations in Victorian era games.
Therefore, it is no surprise that such a huge event like the Great Exhibition of 1851 would be memorialized in the form of games. These souvenir games allow for the Exhibition to live on, miniaturizes the huge public spectacle and moves it into the private space of the home, and allows for continued enjoyment long after the six-month exhibition.
Beaver, Patrick. Victorian Parlor Games. Wigston, Leicester, Magna Books, 1995.
Frost, Ginger S. Victorian Childhoods. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Ebook Library. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life in Victorian England. 2nd ed., Westport, Conn, Greenwood Press, 2009.