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Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game


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About the Author

Ann Israel grew up in Detroit and now lives in New York City. She has been writing Advice for the Lawlorn, a weekly syndicated column for attorneys, published by American Law Media since 1994.

Gregg Swain grew up, and continues to live, in New York City, where she developed her love and knowledge of art. She loves Mah Jongg because it allows her to socialize with close friends while playing with beautiful tiles.


"Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game ... delves into ... cast-stone tiles and ambitious manufacturers' experiments with plastics and composites like Pyralin and Ebonite." -New York Times
"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Whether used as a reference or a beautiful keepsake, it's a very worthy addition to the world of Mah Jongg." -Ruth Unger, President, National Mah Jongg League
"This handsome book is the first to give a history of the tiles used in the game of Mah Jongg. The concept of the game and the symbols on the tiles are explained, and then the wide variety of materials used in making the tiles is discussed and illustrated. Presented in brilliant color and beautifully designed, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game would be a welcome addition to the bookshelf or coffee table of any art lover. For Mah Jongg players, it's a must!" -Elizabeth Stillinger, author of The Antiquers and A Kind of Archeology: Collecting American Folk Art 1876-1976
"What a great book ... The many international manufacturers, the culture craze, and variations in decorative elements have all been pulled together by Ann Israel and Gregg Swain in a very readable and incredibly well-researched book, that not only is chock-full of useful information but laden with wonderful illustrations. Next time a set comes across my desk, I'll not only know more about it but can refer the owner to the definitive source for all Mah Jongg set knowledge." -Lark Mason, Lark Mason Associates, Antiques Roadshow
"From Tuttle Publishing comes this absolutely gorgeous book Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game, by Ann M. Israel and Gregg Swain, with photographs by Michel Arnaud, packed with 192 pages of beautiful illustrations showcasing the occidental experience of Mah Jongg [...] Using a mix of historical black and white with contemporary full color exhibitions, the authors unravel through their pages Mah Jongg's history, lore, art, beauty and fantasy into one of the most extensive displays of Western Mah Jongg art and accessories as one will probably ever see." -Mahjong News
"A book about the game of Mah Jongg sounds extremely individualized, but might serve to the broader interests of those with a passion for art history." -Bennington Banner
"[...] Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game, an elegant new coffee table book written and photographed by three people with Columbia County connections. For many players, there's a social ritual to the whole game experience. For the authors and photographer of the book, however, it's so much more. It's about the art of the Mah Jongg tiles and sets: their histories, their design, the materials used, the varied symbols and scenes depicted on the tiles." -Rural Intelligence
"Offering an intimate look at the history of the game as well as the visual beauty of the mah jongg tiles, this book chronicles sets from the most basic, made simply of paper, to the most precious material such as ivory and mother-of-pearl. Recognized and respectable scholars and game experts contribute important chapters on the game's history and its pieces as well as technical information on the tiles. Lastly, great collectors from around the globe have shared their incredible sets and memories for the first time in one book for everyone to enjoy. The perfect gift for the mah jongg maven in your life." -Southern Jewish Life Magazine

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