Game of Checkers in 18th century France.

World of Checkers Museum

Field review by the editors.

Dubuque, Iowa

This shrine to checkerdom is also the apartment of its director, Don Deweber, who prefers to be known as "Mr. Checkers." Self described as an "old whiskered codger" and "checkers bibliomaniac," Deweber has lined his walls with checker books and filled his dresser drawers, kitchen cabinets, closets, and shelves with checker sets. "I eat, live, and sleep checkers," he told us. "People could easily spend a week here and not see everything."

Deweber limits himself to the domestic game -- there are no Chinese Checkers here -- and his interest flags after the mid-20th century. But aside from these restrictions, anything goes. "I went without a lot of meals to buy some of these things," he told us. "If I get a checkers book, I want every edition, every printing. A normal collector wouldn't do that. I had 500 copies of one book."

The collection of Mr. Checkers grew so vast that in 2004 he donated the world's largest checkers library to nearby Loras College, "and I still had so many books that I ended up giving 5,000 to the Cleveland Library." His quiet approach differs markedly from that of the flashy Charles Walker and his International Checkers Hall of Fame. In fact, Walker offered to move Mr. Checkers (and his collection) into his Hall, an invitation that Deweber is glad that he declined, given the Hall's subsequent immolation.

Despite its double-duty as Deweber's home, The World of Checkers Museum is run as a real attraction that welcomes visitors. But you have to call first, and if the line is busy, you should e-mail Mr. Checkers at checkers21@hotmail.com. "I'm usually on-line," he told us, "bidding on eBay."

World of Checkers Museum

Address:
Hillcrest Rd, Dubuque, IA
Directions:
Location approximate. Call to arrange a visit and receive directions.
Hours:
By appt only. (Call to verify)
Phone:
563-556-1944
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