The Jubilee, an interesting game


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John Harris (English, 1756–1846)
The Jubilee, an interesting game
London: John Harris, 1810
children’s board game; printed and hand-coloured paper, mounted on cloth
Frederick Morgan Collection of Children’s Books
Rare Books Collection
University of Melbourne Library

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Rare Books Collection, University of Melbourne Library

This Jubilee game was produced on 1 January 1810 by the innovative London publisher John Harris. Harris’s company was one of the first to specialise in publishing children’s books and amusements intended for pleasure and enjoyment, featuring colourful copperplate and woodcut illustrations. Printed on paper and coloured by hand, then backed with linen, folded, and housed in a slipcase, the Jubilee game is a continuation of an earlier game, Historical pastimes of England, that chronicled seven centuries of English history, from 1066 to the accession of King George III in 1760.

The Jubilee game, which was intended to create ‘a lively interest in the breast of every Juvenile Briton’, marked the Jubilee celebrations (50 years of reign) by George III (1738–1820, reigned 1760–1811, regency 1811–20). The board records the major events, episodes and geographic and scientific discoveries of his rule. The 150 squares begin at the outer edge, with the proclamation of George’s reign, progressing through upheavals such as the American Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, and ending with the Jubilee celebrations in September 1809. Pleasant and unpleasant episodes are depicted, such as the Treaty of Paris, the Stamp Tax Act and the Boston Tea Party, many in a semi-satirical cartoon style. Squares of special interest include the European discovery of Australia (illustrated with an Aboriginal man and a kangaroo), the discovery of the planet Uranus, and caricatures of major public figures of the day.

Teaching ideas

The University of Melbourne’s curriculum is rich and varied, and changes from year to year. For more teaching ideas, contact a collection manager.

Age of Empires

Obtain an overview of the principal activities and concerns of the long reign of George III, as depicted in a contemporary source document. Develop an understanding of the role of the monarch, warfare and other political and economic expressions in the idea of empire in late 17th- and early 18th-century England.

Modern and Contemporary Ireland since 1790

Situate the historical relationship between Ireland and England in the Georgian period, including the major events and forces that shaped the political climate, such as the power of the regent and the importance of empire. Understand the interplay between the overall political, economic and intellectual influences on English–Irish relations before and immediately after the creation of the United Kingdom in 1801.

Modern European History 1789 to 1914

Examine and analyse the events and context of the long reign of King George III in shaping the modern world. Explore the interconnections between cultural, political and social developments depicted in the Jubilee game, and use a selection as the basis of in-depth investigation, and to stimulate class discussion and debate.

Making History

Use a primary historical source for the archival research project for this subject. Explore the history, politics and culture of Georgian England, based on the contemporary account, and compare use of the original and digital versions when studying and writing history.

Historical Inquiry

Investigate the role of primary source materials in facilitating historical inquiry in classroom teaching and for informing learning outcomes. Use the Jubilee game as a case study for historical interaction, for interrogating objects, contesting hypotheses and developing historical skills.

Historical Thinking

Analyse the potential of objects to improve the capacity of school students to think historically. Reflect on opportunities provided by primary source-based historical inquiry to inform thinking and develop teaching approaches that can be applied in the classroom.

Intersecting objects

To learn more, visit the Rare Books Collection website.


The Jubilee game, Victoria & Albert Museum, London.