image: University of Chicago Magazine - logo

link to: featureslink to: class news, books, deathslink to: chicago journal, college reportlink to: investigationslink to: editor's notes, letters, chicagophile, course work
link to: back issueslink to: contact forms, address updateslink to: staff info, ad rates, subscriptions

  Written by
  Sharla A. Stewart

  > >
Collective efforts
  > >
News you can abuse
  > >
The collecting mania


Collective efforts
The rules of the game

"The chess board is the world," wrote 19th-century English scientist and educator Thomas Henry Huxley, "the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature."

Edwin ("Ned") Munger, SB'43, SM'48, PhD'51, has taken Huxley to heart and assembled a small galaxy: a collection of 350 ethnic chess sets from his travels to 150 countries. Some sets-like a recent addition from the Orkney Islands off the northern coast of Scotland and another from Niue, an island in the South Pacific-he commissioned and then waited patiently while the artists labored over their visions of a pawn or a king. Others he purchased ready-made, both new and antique.

PHOTO:  Pawns, bishops, and knights line the walls of Ned Munger's Caltech office.  A member of Chess Collections International, he says he is one of 400 "serious" collectors worldwide.

Each has its own story, many of which are related in Munger's book series Cultures, Chess & Art: A Collector's Odyssey across Seven Continents (Mundial Press). A professor emeritus of African studies at the California Institute of Technology, Munger says that his first volume, on Sub-Saharan Africa, was an extension of his life's work. At the moment he's at work on volume four: Mongolia west through the "-stans" down to the Middle East, India, and Sri Lanka.

Geography happens also to be a passion (and a former concentration) for Daniel G. Emberley, AB'82. His collection of 50 Monopoly games includes Parker Brothers-licensed versions featuring the streets of Paris, Milan, Prague, and Moscow. (Strangely, the Canadian version is simply Atlantic City in French: le Parc Place.) "They're a unique snapshot of each culture," says Emberley. And like Munger's chess sets, "each one tells a story. For instance," he continues, "the Hong Kong version was available there until the Chinese takeover, when it was suddenly only available through Harrod's in London." The Russian version of the boxed capitalist propaganda was banned in the U.S.S.R.

PHOTO:  Daniel Emberley has passed "Go" more times than he can  count - and has the fake money to prove it.

Among Emberley's board games are also Parker Brothers-licensed knockoffs (National Parks, Star Wars), as well as at least 20 unauthorized versions: Buffalopoly, Elvis-opoloy, and Emberley's favorite, Monotony: The Game for Bored Housewives. What interests Emberley is how financially irrelevant the 1930s concept has become: "You can buy Boardwalk in Milan for the price of a slice of pizza."

  OCTOBER 2001

  > > Volume 94, Number 1

  > > Class News

  > > Books
  > > Deaths

  > > Chicago Journal

  > > College Report

  > > Investigations

  > > Editor's Notes

  > > From the President
  > > Letters
  > > Chicagophile



uchicago ©2001 The University of Chicago Magazine 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637
phone: 773/702-2163 fax: 773/702-2166