A Vintage Find ~ Mahjong Game Set

The last time I visited my daughter in Florida I found a vintage Mahjong game at Goodwill in Delray Beach.

I almost missed it because it was sitting in a big pile of junk.   At first, I thought it was a vintage blue travel case or suitcase.

So I was a bit shocked when I opened the case and found all these Chinese game tiles.  I am unfamiliar with Mahjong but there was a faint light going off in my brain about a Chinese game but I couldn’t remember the name or anything about it.  It was only $5 so I took a chance on it.

Game experts generally agree that Mahjong evolved near Shanghai in the mid to late 1800’s.  The game quickly caught on in Shanghai and Beijing.  The earliest surviving Mahjong tile sets date to around 1870 and were acquired in Fuzhou, Shanghai, and Ningbo.


 Imported to the United States in the 1920’s, Americans soon discovered its enjoyable intellectual challenge.  The first Mahjong sets sold in the U.S. were sold by Abercrombie & Fitch starting in 1920.  It became a success and the co-owner of the company, Ezra Fitch, sent emissaries to Chinese villages to buy every Mahjong set they could find.  Abercrombie & Fitch sold a total of 12,000 game sets.

 A set of Mahjong tiles usually has a minimum of 136 tiles even though 144 tiles are common.  Sets from the United States or Southeast Asia usually have more tiles.  My set has 152 tiles and five trays.  Both the trays and the tiles are bakelite.

Even though both skill and chance play a fundamental role in the game, there isn’t a shortage of superstitions in which players believe where they sit, how they hold their pieces or objects they have on their person somehow affect the outcome of the game.

Please Pin A Vintage Mahjong Game Set

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  1. Cool set!

  2. What a fun find, Sharon. Those game pieces are so unique! Thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm! Pinning!

  3. Jann Olson says:

    Very fun! I’ve never heard of this before.

  4. That’s interesting Sharon. I had no idea they went back so far.

  5. What a terrific find! I play Mahjong every Tuesday with a group of friends. I hope you take up the game. It’s a great deal of fun and good for keeping one’s brain sharp. I love the vintage sets. I have one with the bakalite tiles. Love the tactile and clicking sound the games offers. Have fun and may you always have lots of jokers!

  6. Kathy A. says:

    When I saw the first tile, I immediately thought, oh, what great pieces for making jewelry. Seeing as they are bakelite, the set prob shouldn’t be broken up. Have you researched what it’s worth?

  7. Sharon, I have played a lot of Mahjong but mostly on the computer. Love the color of the box. What a find. Thanks for sharing and have a great week. Sylvia D.

  8. That was a fun and great find. I think those pieces are so pretty in color

  9. I remember my grandma playing this, but I never learned how to play this. This set is so cool and nostalgic.

  10. i have played this many times on computer never have i seen a set like this
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  11. That’s a gorgeous set of tiles. My aunts played majong. I loved listening to the tiles and their laughter.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

  12. That was a fun find. I enjoyed the history.

  13. I love it. So cute.

I love to hear what you think.

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