Mah Jongg is not just a game. It has become a part of my life that allows me to entertain my Mah Jongg-playing friends, cook great meals to serve to them and test my mental skills during our game play (which, hopefully, is often).
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am over the moon for Pung Chow Mah Jongg sets. Pung Chow was a company based in Worcester, Massachusetts (with another factory in New York) and only in existence for 3 years from 1922 – 1925 before declaring bankruptcy. But in those three short years they manufactured some very unusual and very beautiful Mah Jongg sets. Although they made sets out of wood, I am crazy about the two-toned pyralin tiles with their ivory colored fronts and shiny black backs. And the Flowers are just too fabulous – the little men, sometimes just outlined in black but every once in a while beautifully colored. Here are three identical sets in sweet black boxes with four small drawers holding the counters and other accessories and then one large drawer holding the tiles.
These three sets have the black outlined Flowers. But of course, the trademarked Silver Dragon can be found in any and all Pung Chow sets. And the shiny black backs are part of the Pung Chow two-toned look.
The Dots are beautiful and the One Bam is the swooping crane that I have discussed previously – with just a hint of a smile on its face. The pyralin substance really does simulate the color of ivory and it maintains its color over time.
A few months ago I purchased this unusual set and am still at a loss at trying to identify it. Perhaps someone out there reading this blog will be able to help…It seems to be very similar in composition to the Portland Billiard Ball Company set that was featured on this blog last month. The tiles are blocks of what I suspect is bamboo with thin pieces of colorful plastic/celluloid glued or somehow affixed to the wood.
The Bams and the Dots are easily identifiable – although I suspect I may have displayed the Bams upside down!
But it is the Craks that has thrown me way off…Here are two rows of the Craks (1 – 9) and, as you will see, the symbols in the first row are quite different from the symbols in the second row.
Take a closer look at this row of Two Craks:
Each Two Crak is unique. Have you seen this before?
The Flowers are quite beautiful:
And the depiction of the Winds is lovely (although possibly upside down again!). Unfortunately, the set is missing the four West Winds.
Both the One Bams (missing two) and the Dragons (missing two Red Dragons and one Green Dragon) show different images. BTW, if anyone can supply the missing tiles, please contact me.
So, what do you think? I appeal to you to help explain what this unusual set is all about. I look forward to hearing some opinions from you and I will publish them in an upcoming post which happily will be called, “Mystery Solved!”
Whenever I pull out one of my Mah Jongg sets, I always ooh and aah and declare that particular set to be my favorite. I feel fortunate that I love all of my sets so much. But, i do think this pyralinPung Chow set is really and truly my favorite. I love everything about it. Those silver Dragons! Those 1-Bams! The beautiful black backs! Those amazing Dots! The bold Craks! Are you getting the feeling that I am over the moon about this set?
The Circles suit – or, as we call them, the Dots suit – is the original suit of the Mah Jongg tiles; the Bamboo (Bams) and Wan (Craks) suits were added later. The similarity of the circles to coins leads to the belief that the majority of the Circles suit tiles are connected to money or business. Tiles in this suit are numbered from 1- 9 and are described below.
Last Friday was my birthday and X went above, beyond, over, way far away in terms of making sure that I had a very happy birthday. I still am reeling from what she did for me. A fabulous and exquisite luncheon, lots and lots of laughing, and best of all, bringing together a group of twelve of my dearest, dearest friends. How she pulled this all together is so beyond my wildest comprehension. Even two of my best, best, best friends – one from California and one from Florida (besties since we were 4 years old) – were there to surprise me. And then, after all of this, she gave me the most magnificent Bone and Bamboo Mah Jong set (complete with matching extra tiles and beautiful Joker stickers) AND 4 glorious vintage wood racks. I absolutely cannot wait to play with this incredible set.