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FAQ #7p. "Tell Me Anything About My Set"

I'm happy to help you learn more information about your mah-jongg set. But vague questions make me work too hard, or, worse, don't give me enough to work from.

To my mind, a request for random thoughts is like handing me a shotgun and inviting me to fire it into an open field, whereas a focused question is like handing me a bow and arrow and presenting me with a target on a stack of hay bales. I much prefer the latter. So, if you have questions, by all means ask them, and I'll do my best to answer them!

Please ask very specific questions, after you've read the other parts of FAQ 7. You can use the Nav Frame at left to navigate the FAQs. Just about every Frequently Asked Question has already been answered. If you ask something that's already answered in an FAQ, you'll be directed to the specific FAQ where your question has already been answered. If you've already read the FAQ but something wasn't clear, please say so when you ask your question.

Here are some example questions. Notice how an "anything" question doesn't get as good an answer? Actually, a lot of them are kind of snippy. I'll think about softening them up a bit one of these days.

Tell me anything about my set.
Um, I don't know... this set belongs to you... I guess.

How old is my set?
Read FAQ 7g.

I read FAQ 7g already, and my best guess is that my set is from the 1920s. Can you look at my pictures and confirm this guess for me?
Good pictures. Yes, it's from the 1920s.

Is my set an antique?
You'll have to define what "antique" means to you. Some people say anything older than 50-60 years is an antique. Others say 100 years. Your set appears to be around 70-80 years old - I don't know if that means it's an "antique" or not.

I've read FAQ 7g and FAQ 11 but I can't tell for certain. Here are some photos. Can you tell if my set is from the Qing Dynasty?
Good job! Nicely asked, and nice work on the photos. These pictures show me everything I need to see - the flowers, the 1B, 1C, & 1D... the dragons, the container, the accessories. Yes, I can tell you, based on these photos, that this set is definitely not from before 1912. It was made later, after J.P. Babcock popularized the game in the twenties.

Is this a vintage set?
I have no idea what "vintage" means to you!

How much is my set worth?
Read FAQ 7h.

I've read FAQ 7h and all the other parts of FAQ 7, but trying to go on eBay to see other sets like mine is way too much for this novice Internet user. Can you please look at my pictures and help me figure out how much my set is worth? Here are the details about my set... [omitted]
No problem. It's an ordinary 1920s set in average condition with all the bits and pieces. It's worth around $100-$150.

What are my tiles made of?
Read FAQ 7c.

I read FAQ 7c and I even read FAQ 7c3, but I can't tell what kind of plastic my tiles are. It's driving me crazy! Can you help me figure that out please? Here are some photos...
They're not catalin or any other formaldehyde-based plastic - too white. I can't tell from your photos if they're polystyrene, polyethylene, hybrid, alite, marblette, or what. Does it really matter so much? Why are you letting it drive you crazy?

I have an ivory set...
No, you don't. It's bone. Read FAQ 7c2.

I'm a collector and have several bone sets. I've read FAQ 7c2 and I'm fairly sure that this particular set is ivory. I see pearlescent wavy grain that changes when I rotate a tile under bright light. The carving on the tiles is exquisite, and it's clear that a lot of care was taken in the manufacturing of the tiles and the storage trays. So how much is it worth? Here are the other details about my set... [omitted]
If you live in the United States, it's illegal to sell ivory items across state lines, and it's illegal to sell ivory items without a hard-to-obtain permit. If you live in California and if you're reading this after July 1, 2016, it's illegal to sell ivory items. If you live in a country where it's legal to sell ivory items, such a set might be worth anywhere from $700 to $3,000, I suppose. I really don't know!

I have a complete set and I was wondering...
Hold on. I have no idea what "complete" means, when you say it. "Complete" could mean a lot of different things! Please don't use the word "complete," instead please give me numbers - counts of parts. Example: "I have a set of bone/bamboo tiles in a wooden slide-top box. There are 148 tiles (the full 144-tile Chinese set, with 4 extra blanks), and 2 dice, and there's a manual entitled 'Mah Chung,' not dated." Maybe that's "complete," and maybe it isn't. Please don't just expect me to know what you mean by the word "complete." [Retroactive rant][/retroactive rant]

What company made my set?
Sorry, I don't know about manufacturing companies. Check CHarli's website (http://www.charli.org/Mah_Jong/Museum/welcome.htm) if you're looking for that kind of information.

Is this a Chinese set or an American set?
I don't know if you're asking "was this set made in China or America," or "was this set made to be sold in China or America," or "is this set suitable for playing Chinese or American rules." If the latter, read FAQ 7a.

I have a bakelite/catalin set that was obviously made to play American mah-jongg. Can you tell me what year it was made in?
Maybe I could, if you would have just read FAQ 7g and column 311 and given me enough information - especially how many jokers and flowers the set has (manufactured/"natural" jokers, I mean, as opposed to stickered jokers).

I'm an eBay seller, and so far I've figured out that this is a mah-jongg set. I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd tell me everything you can about this set so I can write a good eBay pitch and get a fair price.
Hey, thanks for being so forthcoming. Most eBay sellers who come to me try to hide the fact that they're sellers! Which is silly, because I can tell. Anyway, read the FAQs, and if you have more specific questions, y'all come back, y'hear?

I'd appreciate whatever you can tell me about this set.
Read FAQ 7 to find out all I can tell you.

Here are some pictures of my mah-jongg set.
Yes, it's a mah-jongg set, all right. Did you have a question for me?

I've read everything in FAQ 7. I know how much the set is worth, how old it is, what kind of mah-jongg it's suitable for, what all the tiles and pieces are... So tell me something I don't know.
There is such a thing as a bad question. (^_^) Click here to learn more than you ever wanted to know about how to ask a good question.

Please help me identify my set.
Why? You don't recognize it as yours? (^_^) Sorry, that was snippy. What is it you want to know exactly?

I'm trying to find out information about my mah-jongg set. [Pictures and details omitted.]
Okay... What kind of information are you trying to find out about it?

Which brings me back to the point of this FAQ. I do very well with narrow specific questions (I hope my responses on my Q&A bulletin board bear this out). Please feel free to ask whatever questions you have about your set, but please ask them in a focused way. I like targets much better without shotguns.

Note that if you ask a Frequently Asked Question, you'll be asked to start by reading the appropriate FAQ, where the answer has most likely already been given.


© 2005-2017 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.