06 April 2017
Listing follows sale of very first copy of iconic strategy title as part of estate clearance
Remember when the very first edition of Allan B. Calhamer’s legendary strategy epic Diplomacy suddenly appeared on eBay last week and ended up selling for more than $5,000? Well, it looks like that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity wasn’t your only chance to own a prominent piece of tabletop history.
That’s because a number of original Diplomacy prototypes have now surfaced on eBay as part of the ongoing clearance of the designer’s estate following his death in 2013.
The collection of seven maps, drawings and prototype game designs are believed to be Calhamer’s original work from the 1950s, ahead of the publication of the title in 1959.
Two of the maps are painted on heavy kraft paper, while five are on paper, with another on tracing paper – including handwritten notes from the author.
While the seller, All-Clear Estate Sales, isn’t “100% sure” the documents are authentic prototypes, Diplomacy expert Larry Peery has analysed the materials and believes them to be the real deal, used to play test the game before the initial run of 500 first edition copies (including Calhamer’s own copy, sold last week) were produced.
The maps serve as a fascination look into the evolution of one of the tabletop’s most iconic games, with one map resembling the title as it was eventually released and another earlier version featuring significant changes to the layout that are believed to have been changed to simplify and balance the game.
There are also some maps of Greece, which Peery suggested were concept sketches for a game based on the Golden Age of Greece.
“For now, let’s consider this to be an original, one of a kind, prototype of Allan’s masterpiece,” Peery said of the second prototype Diplomacy map. “Beyond that it is a work of art. After all, he drew it and painted it himself. This rises above being just another map and becomes a real work of art.
“It needs to be framed. It needs to be displayed. After all, copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta are in everybody’s library. This is something truly special.”
The listing is currently at $500 at the time of writing, and will run until April 12th.