Battledore collection

battledoresThe National Badminton Museum has recently purchased a battledore to add to the collection in Milton Keynes which now includes the following items:

 Two early battledores came to Milton Keynes from the Badminton Association Bromley offices – these are marked 1787 which we assume is the date of manufacture. We do not know how these came to be at Bromley which is a great pity.

Another pair which we have dated as circa 1860 was donated by Mrs Ruth Matkin and these are inscribed 6 – she told us that she had played with them as a child.

A single battledore, our most recent purchase inscribed with a 2, which was described as circa 1900, (possibly ping pong), vellum face and leather covered handle and frame.

It is convenient to consider the two above items together, as at one time battledores were inscribed with numbers 1 – 7 indicating different lengths.

Another pair that we purchased were described as circa 1880 having a sticker which says 'Warranted Best Vellum'. The wooden handles are wrapped in a thin leather covering with a chain pattern embossed into them. There are traces of gold leaf that can be seen and each battledore measures 17 ½” and 5½” across.

Two further single battledores are in our collection, one dated circa 1890, and the other is 17 inches long.

A pair of smaller battledores were probably used for table tennis.

Most of the above battledores are on display in a cabinet in the museum at Milton Keynes

Another collection of battledores is at Badminton House including the one inscribed with the number of hits kept up in 1830 by Lady Somerset and another person on Saturday January 12th 1830 and recorded as 2117. Badminton House is not open to the public, but the museum arranges a visit each year which is restricted to Friends of the Museum who will be notified of details at the appropriate time. 

It is worth noting that another museum exhibiting two small battledores is the Discovery Point Antartic Museum in Dundee – the description states - 'The men of Discovery played a variety of games to keep themselves amused.  These two leather and parchement racquets are called battledores and together with a shuttlecock were used to play an early form of badminton.'

A few scarce battledores have vellum on one side and strings on the other – the museum would be very pleased to hear of anyone who could help us obtain one of these rare and valuable items.