George III Mahogany and Brass Gamecocks Carrying Case
George III Mahogany and Brass Gamecocks Carrying Case

George III Mahogany and Brass Gamecocks Carrying Case

c. 1800 England

Offered by W.R. Harvey & Co. (Antiques) Ltd

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Gamecocks Box

Dating from the end of the 18th. Century this Gamecocks Carrying Case consists of a rectangular box in mahogany with a hinged top and brass handle, the top with air holes all round to the frieze and opening on two compartments with hinged framed metal grill lids and each compartment having a sliding aperture or window. This was how a wealthy gentleman would transport his prize fighting cocks to the cockpit for a bout of cockfighting or cocking.

Cockfighting goes back to ancient times and may well have been introduced to Cornwall by Phoenician traders who were bargaining to buy tin and betting on their prized Gamecocks. In all probability the matching of one bird against another may well go back well before then to the very first domesticated Chickens and cock birds showing off one against another resulting in fights. Once two animals or humans fight, others will wish to wager against the outcome and so the legend begins. From the time of Henry II through to the Victorian period, Cockfighting was known as "The Pleasure of Princes" even though it was followed by every level of society from the highest nobility to the humblest peasants. Love of "Cocking" permeated society from top to bottom. Hogarth's 1759 engraving of "The Cockpit" set in the Royal Cockpit, Birdcage Walk, St. James's Park shows this with noblemen and robbers all mingling in the crowd.

The Gamecocks were most often transported to the fighting arena, the cockpit, in heavy bags embroidered with the owners coat of arms or initials so the mere fact that someone went to the expense of having a special box made for their prized examples gives an idea of the scale of money bet on the cocks and the value of any prime winning specimens. Marks on the outside of the case indicate that it was itself carried in just such a bag or contrivance of straps.

Sport in the Olden Time, Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart, Vinton & Company, London 1912,

The Compleat Gamester, Charles Cotton, London 1674 Chapter XXXVIII pages 206 to232
Dimensions
Height 9.00 inch (22.86 cm)
Width 12.00 inch (30.48 cm)
Depth 10.00 inch (25.40 cm)
Stock Code
401P
Medium
Mahogany and Brass
W.R. Harvey & Co. (Antiques) Ltd

W.R. Harvey & Co. (Antiques) Ltd
86 Corn Street
Witney
Oxfordshire
OX28 6BU

+44 (0)1993 706501
+44 (0)7967 649958
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