Charles I was known to find board games absorbing, so much so that, apparently, he didn’t even rise from a game of chess when, during the Civil War, a messenger arrived to inform him that he had been betrayed by the Scots to the Parliamentarian forces.

According to Hesketh family records, on the day of his execution in 1649, he handed over an amber games board to his confidant, William Juxon, Bishop of London.

The board was later conveyed to the Heskeths of Rufford Hall, Lancashire, and Easton Neston, Northamptonshire, and is now to be auctioned at Sotheby’s sale of European Sculpture & Works of Art: Medieval to Modern on December 5. Sotheby’s says the possible provenance is given credence by the quality of the board-amber production in Königsberg was at its height then-and it bears an estimate of £300,000-£500,000.

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