The playing surface features three concentric rings, each a different color. The rings are divided into 24 segments, each segment bearing the answer to a different geography question. A circular cutout within the rings reveals a glass panel, under which a freely-rotating magnetic pointer with a head in the form of a carrier pigeon is visible. The playing surface is adorned with figures wearing the characteristic dress of different European countries.
The answers on the inner (pink) ring only are matched with two disks, each bearing twelve geographic questions (It is not clear why there are no disks corresponding to the other two (yellow and green) rings, but all descriptions of the game call for only the two disks.) To play, participants take turns selecting a disk and answering one of the questions thereon. To check their answers, they place their magnetized disk in the center of the game board, with the relevant question aligned with “North” on the outline map. This causes the pointer to rotate until it points to the correct answer.
The game was published by the firm of Leon Saussine, a
“creator and producer of a wide variety of games including race games, strategy games, puzzles, card games, questions and answer games, games of skill and shooting, and shadow theatre. He exhibited at the world fair in 1878 as an educational and parlour games publisher. The company continued after his death in 1896 into the early 1900’s run by his widow and then his sons.” (www.boardgamegeek.com)
As is the case with Le Pigeon Voyageur, many of Saussine’s games were illustrated by Bernard Coudert and lithographed by H. Jannin.
Saussine produced many games with an educational slant, among them a number of other magnetic question-and-answer games, for which he received a patent in 1870. Those included a variant of the present game under the title Jeu Magnetique Geographique.
Rarity and references
Le Pigeon Voyageur appears to be quite rare, with none listed in OCLC or the Catalogue Collectif de France. An example is held at the Indiana University’s Lilly Library, Rare Book Hub lists three or four sold at European auctions since the late 1990s. Some background on Saussine from a biography at jeuxanciensdecollection.com and boardgamegeek.com, both accessed March 2022.