Fun, Profit and Morality for All the Family; CLASSIC BOARD GAMES ARE INVESTMENT WINNERS

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Byline: TOBY WALNE

NOSTALGIA for an era when families had fun together by rolling dice and moving counters is now being shared by investors, with rare and sought-after board games in good condition fetching hundreds of pounds.

Candy Lovegrove, a games collector who also trades through her website nostalgiagames.net, says: 'A great place collectors can start is to search out games they used to enjoy in their childhoods. Favourites such as a pristine Fifties set of Buccaneer or a Sixties game of Escape From Colditz can sell for [pounds sterling]70.

'Although there is no guarantee prices will rise over time, it is unlikely they will fall. And if well looked after - and played with carefully - you have a fun investment others can enjoy.'

Candy, 66, of Broadstairs, Kent, says there was a creative explosion of board games in the early 20th Century when they became a focus of family entertainment of the new middle classes.

Before the late Victorian era, games were limited and tended to be educational and based on snakes and ladderstype rules. But Carol Goddard, who runs Donay Traditional Games & Pastimes in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, says these earlier classics tend to fetch the most money.

'Some marvellous linenbacked early games were produced in the Georgian era with fabulous illustrations and names,' she says.

Among the classics are The New Game Of Virtue Rewarded And Vice Punished, created in 1818. Such games were designed to teach the rights and wrongs of behaviour. Good examples can sell for [pounds sterling]500 or more, but prices vary hugely depending on condition and market interest.

'One of the very first "race" games was Game Of The Goose,' says Carol. 'You might be able to pick up an early Victorian example of this linen-backed favourite for a similar sort of price.'

She says that examples with the original 'teetotum' - the spinner substitute for dice - and a cover slip to contain the game can double values.

'I get approached a lot by parents who want to get their children off the computer and involved in interactive games for all the family,' says Carol. 'My advice is to find a theme that captures everyone's interest - it could be a sport, such as horse racing or football. A favourite for boys is a game of warfare.'

She says one of the most successful board games is Escalado, the horse racing table game. Early examples from the Forties might fetch up to [pounds sterling]95, while less detailed Sixties sets go for [pounds sterling]60.

Monopoly is the most popular game in history with more than 200 million sets sold worldwide since it started being marketed by Parker Brothers in 1935. …