Category Archives: Mah Jongg and Me


The Bird Wars have settled down a bit ( although I still have some more to show you!) but how about some equal time to showcase some dazzling Dots…

1598908_10153365514722222_2195409539138602150_oWow and wow! Much thanks to Katie for sharing these with us…along with just a few Birdie Bams…


Oh, okay – just one more…here’s another gorgeous one, courtesy of Caren:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn aside here and a big favor to ask of you – if you have received a copy of our book, Mah Jongg The Art of the Game, please write a review on Amazon. I can’t begin to tell you how much I would appreciate it!


Gregg and I were interviewed last week about our book by Scott Miller from Mahjong News. I thought you might like to learn a little more about us…

Swain & Israel  <—-Me!

Ann M. Israel and Gregg Swain were after private Western mah jongg collections when they invaded many homes during their search, but they aren’t burglars! They are photo-archeologists, and private homes were their dig! Hidden deep in the dark of basements, closets, and attics all over this world are some of the most amazing mah jongg treasures people might never see; tiles carefully hand carved and painted by artisans long forgotten. Like skillful and patient archeologists, Ann M. Israel and Gregg Swain set out to unearth these lost works of art before they are forgotten forever.

readmore at


…well, here comes BIRD WARS!

You’d better sit down because you are about to see some of the most spectacular One Bams ever!!!

nov 18, 2014 birds 007These tiles are all ivory, bone and bamboo, and bone and ebony tiles.

Next – get ready…

nov 18, 2014 cb fi birds 005These tiles are resin, Chinese Bakelite, Chinese Catalin and French ivory.

All of these One Bams have something in common – they are all hand-carved. Wow!!!

And they are all part of the breathtaking collection - kept locked away in a secure location, of course –  belonging to my dear friend, the wonderful, ethical, fantastic, and knowledgeable seller of vintage sets, Fracas1 – click on this link to see the beautiful vintage sets she has for sale on eBay.

But wait…there’s more!

885510_864856030192408_4114994913563141877_oThese One Bams are all bamboo tiles, from 1920-1980, courtesy of my great friend, Tony. Double wow!

Want more?

10517408_10204297445828319_7873444320993174131_oThese come from the collection of Shirley, who has been known to save the day for readers of this blog with matching tiles from her incredible orphanage. Triple wow!

Thanks to  Fracas1, Tony, and Shirley, for so generously sharing these fabulous and amazing One Bams with us!

And, before I close today, let me share a poem with the first two lines started by Joy and the second two lines finished in a completely different email by Diane – and I don’t believe they even know one another! This is so fabulous – thanks, ladies!

Ten little birdies, all in a row,

Sitting on a Mah Jongg rack

Flew to a tree, made a show,

Rode the wind; didn’t look back.


Well, the big day has finally arrived! Amazon has sent out emails stating that you will be receiving our book today. Please let me know your thoughts – I can’t wait to hear what you think about the book!!!

And, if you like it, I hope you will write reviews on Amazon – I will be very thankful if you do so!






My friend Em shared this photo of 10 different One Bams – I wanted you all to see it because I find it so amazing that each manufacturer of Mah Jongg games had a different way to stylize the One Bam. Even the size of the tiles are different. Clearly there was no standardization back then but that is what makes each of our vintage sets so unusual and so special.13231_10152378683272653_581588190452960551_n Continue reading



This evening was such a special time for me. After having a second home in Columbia County for over 20 years, it was so wonderful to be back there on Main Street and to have an event for our book at the wonderful Chatham Bookstore. This is a very special place for me, filled with so many memories, and I was honored to be a guest there. And what an amazing evening it turned out to be. We started out with Tom Chulak, one of the owners of the store, conducting an interview with me and Michel Arnaud, our incredible photographer. That was followed by a Q&A session and then, the best part of all, 4 women sat down in the middle of the room and started playing Mah Jongg for all to watch!

Much thanks goes to my friend Warren Collins for putting together the Mah Jongg demonstration along with her three wonderful friends who played the game with her. And, of course, much thanks to the beautiful catering of food and wine provided by Brian Albert of the Old Chatham Country Store.

There was an incredible turnout for this event and I am so grateful for all of the support and love shown to me by all my friends. In addition, it was such a pleasure to meet so many new people – all Mah Jongg players, I might add! This was a night to remember – a very special evening, indeed. I believe my literary agent, the wonderful Jane Creech, took photos - if there are some, I will post them at another time.