Ireene Wicker ~ "The Singing Lady"

Monogrammed leather backgammon set

with genuine gold leaf made by: 
Cartier

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interior cartier
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    This backgammon set once belonged to Ireene Wicker also known famously as "The Singing Lady"  The singing lady was a title she acquired from her radio show which was one of if not the first radio shows written for children.

    I acquired this backgammon set from a close friend of Ireene Wicker's daughter.  Ireen's daughter was Nancy Wicker.  This set has a personal significance to me as I have been a residence of Wicker Park for the past 15+ years.  Wicker Park was named after Nancy's Great grandfather Charles Wicker.  Nancy was an artist and created a life size statue of her great grandfather that still stands in the public park of Wicker Park.

    Charles and his brother owned lots of land in the Wicker Park area.  Charles was the alderman, and they donated the land that is currently the public park.  You will notice in the photos provided that it shows Ireene at the F.D.Rosevelt summer home.  It is not surprising that someone as famous as Ireene was, and married into the Wicker family, might owned a gold leafed, personally monogrammed (I.M.W) CARTIER backgammon set.  

    I have called the court house where Irene was born and she no middle initial.  I called the court house of her place of death and no middle initial of M..  She did change her name several times however.  Through marriage (Wicker and Hammer) and because a numerologist suggest it would be lucky to add an "e" to her first name she changed from Irene to Ireene.  If I had to guess where the M. came from, I might guess that the M. stood for her mothers first name, Margaret.  

    The Backgammon set I believe to be from the 1920's.  The set came with backgammon counting sticks which were used more often before the common use of the doubling cube.  The set is large at approximately 19" x 15" x 4" when closed.  The checkers feel and act like Bakelite and are 1.5" in diameter. They also have harder square edges more common to earlier pieces before 1930.  The dice cups are original and match the set. The set is made by "Cartier, Paris-New York - London, Made in France" which is embossed in gold leaf in the center of the set.  I was told that all of the embossing is genuine gold leaf by both a restoration expert and a Chicago auction house that specializes in games.  I have had the set stabalized so that it should maintain its appearance and quality for another 50-100 years. 

This set is a unique piece of backgammon history showing that the elite loved the game even before the 70's.  Chicago has always been a backgammon town, with backgammon clubs, backgammon stores, and now we know that even at the turn of the 20th century that gorgeous high end sets were being made for Chicago's elite.

Additional information and and example of "The Singing Lady's" Radio show in links below
Charles Wicker by Nancy Wicker