George III Mahogany Gamecocks Carrying Case
English Antique George III Mahogany Gamecocks Carrying Case Dating from the end of the 18th. Century this English Antique Gamecocks Carrying Case consists of a rectangular box in mahogany with a hinged top and brass handle, the top with air holes all round to the frieze and opening on two compartments with hinged framed metal grill lids and each compartment having a sliding aperture or window.
Cockfighting goes back to ancient times and may well have been introduced to Cornwall by Phoenician traders who were bargaining to buy tin and betting on their prized Gamecocks. In all probability the matching of one bird against another may well go back well before then to the very first domesticated Chickens and cock birds showing off one against another resulting in fights. Once two animals or humans fight, others will wish to wager against the outcome and so the legend begins. From the time of Henry II through to the Victorian period, Cockfighting was known as "The Pleasure of Princes" even though it was followed by every level of society from the highest nobility to the humblest peasants. Love of "Cocking" permeated society from top to bottom. Hogarth's 1759 engraving of "The Cockpit" set in the Royal Cockpit, Birdcage Walk, St. James's Park shows this with noblemen and robbers all mingling in the crowd.
This was how a wealthy gentleman would transport his prize fighting cocks to the cockpit for a bout of cockfighting or cocking. The Gamecocks were most often transported to the fighting arena, the cockpit, in heavy bags embroidered with the owners coat of arms or initials so the mere fact that someone went to the expense of having a special box made for their prized examples gives an idea of the scale of money bet on the cocks and the value of any prime winning specimens. Marks on the outside of the case indicate that it was itself carried in just such a bag or contrivance of straps.