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Charles IV of Spain box and counters




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It is appropriate that this article follows on the heels of counters made for Charles III of Spain - as this magnificent  box was made for Charles IV! What a luxury it must have been for Kings to be able to order counters sets made  their own specifications. Charles IV had a tumultuous reign and was not it would seem the most successful of monarchs. He was in power at a most unsettled time with Napoleon on the rampage and limitless machinations taking place. But suffice it to say that he had time to have this amazing set ordered and delivered. It was made specifically for the game of Voltarete and had what is without doubt the largest m-o-p playing piece ever - with the rules and scoring scheme of Voltarete - interestingly inscribed in Portuguese rather than Spanish. This huge scoring scheme is unfortunately damaged - but it is still possible to marvel at this feat of production with deep-carved decoration and a wonderful fretted border; it is held on its own special silk-lined tray above the counters. All the pieces have the full Spanish coat of arms and they all have deep-carved decoration. There are five shapes of counter variously numbered 1, 5, 10, 20 and 100. The lower part of the box has custom-made wells to accept the stacks of counters and each well has its own tray with silk pulls to facilitate removal of the counters. There were clearly 180 gaming counters originally - though the set is not complete having lost around twenty over the years (I have have compensated for their loss in the pictures). I would have expected the date of these to be around 1840 - but this set has forced me to review my dates as Charles IV abdicated in 1808 and went to live in France so these must have been produced in around 1800 - very early for deep-carved decoration on counters. And finally the box has the original inventory number to the base. I was delighted to ba able to acquire this set: it adds that extra frisson to hold items made for the very people who were making history. 

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