I was catching up on Pinterest today which led me to Etsy where I found something very interesting – an opportunity to purchase an original Mahjong game by the Deshler Purchasing Agency of Shanghai from around 1923. This is not a tile set but rather, a very early version of Mah Jongg played with cards. All the regular suits, honors, winds, etc., are part of the game but they are made of paper instead of the material we usually see from sets made in China such as bone and bamboo. I found this particularly interesting because it is the Deshler set that is pictured in my new book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game (always happy to get in a plug for the book!):
Unfortunately, the box top shown on Etsy is not in pristine condition as is the one we photographed for the book although the seller has made assurances that the rest of the set is in good shape. She wrote the following:
“This was one of the first Mahjong sets to be introduced to the West. It says, “Copyright and Patent Applied For” in English and Chinese on the bottom of the box. We searched for a similar set and found only one, a later version which indicates that the copyright and patent had been obtained and which has “All Rights Reserved” on the bottom. That set is pictured here:
Although the box has some wear and paint splotches to the lid, this set is otherwise in perfect condition. All pieces are present, clean and like new. It looks as if it may never have been used. Quite a find!”
I would feel good about her assurances since the rest of the photos show a really beautiful set in seemingly great condition. The seller says it looks as if it may never have been used and I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened to be true.
Check out these beautiful pictures:
If you are interested in this set, you can contact the shop owner, Gementia13Jewels at https://www.etsy.com/shop/Gementia13Jewels?ref=l2-shopheader-name&show_panel=true or view the set directly at https://www.etsy.com/listing/199903996/rare-1920s-pre-patent-antique-western. It is listed at a great price. Let me know if any reader of this blog is the lucky buyer!