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“Get Rid of Huns.” The Great European War Game.

  • Publisher: R Farmer & Son (Makers)
  • Date: c1916
  • Dimensions: Box: 17.9 x 17.9 x 2 cms


British-made propaganda dexterity map puzzle, c1916: the Allies (as a bead of silver mercury) must reach Berlin & occupy “Hunland”

About this piece:

“Get Rid of Huns.” The Great European War Game. [R Farmer & Son] ,c1916

Wood & cardboard box with glazed top & decorative colour printed paper border to edges. Colour printed base to inside of box. Four original coloured circular counters. Original silver mercury bead/s still preserved within sealed box interior. Printed playing instructions to box base. A few flakes of old brown paper within sealed box interior. In all a very finely preserved example in original condition and full working order.

One of most striking and virulently anti-German dexterity puzzles of the wartime period is this exceedingly rare game entitled “Get Rid of Huns”, probably first produced in early 1916 by the London novelty games manufacturer, R Farmer & Son. It takes the form of a small glazed box, the base printed with a coloured map of Europe with border decorations, with four small moveable coloured counters (representing the Central Powers) and a small bead of silver mercury (representing the Allies), all manipulated by tilting the box.

 The most likely origin of the derogatory term “Hun” is a speech (the so-called Hunenrede) made by the Kaiser, Wilhelm II, at the time of the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China, and widely reported in the British press. In the speech the Kaiser compared German soldiers fighting in China to the Huns of King Etzel of a thousand years earlier, “mighty in tradition & myth”,who would mercilessly defeat and kill their Chinese foes.

The central circular map of Europe depicts the six Allied Powers as red dotted territories, the Central Powers as an extensive black territory. Each country is identified, though the lands of Germany & Austria-Hungary are denoted collectively as “Hunland”. To reinforce the hellish connotations of their jet black territory, around the edges of the map, the Four Central Powers of Germany, Austria, Hungary & Turkey have four “Friends”, depicted as frightening open-mouthed horned devils. According to the Directions, the Game is begun by assembling the four coloured counters of the Central Powers in the central black territory marked “Hunland”. The Allies must then manoeuvre the counters out of this space to their respective corners, each to cover the mouths of their matching devil “Friend”. Once this is achieved, the Allies must then occupy the space marked Berlin, to make the final Peace Settlement. Hostilities at an end, the Allies can then separate (literally, by splitting the mercury into smaller globules), the successful armies (taking care not to disturb the Huns) then returning triumphant to their own lands, leaving an army of occupation in Berlin.