English, non-Staunton, playing sets
Dec 21, 2009Public
Photo: Ivory sets
Photo: CH111; English, ivory, generally refered to* as a "Washington pattern" set  mid-late C18th.

* Washington himself is known to have owned a set in this general style (but with a number of differences).
Photo: CH111 - Rooks,  with correct early full-brickwork rather than just the horizontal divisions of later sets; also the cutting of the brickwork and the crennelations again effected after staining
Photo: CH111 - Knights
Photo: CH111 Bishops - Note the carving of the mitres has been effected after staining
Photo: CH111 - Kings & Queens
Photo: CH111 - Pawns
Photo: CH111 Knight
Photo: CH396 English pattern, ivory 

Family view, white pieces
Photo: CH396  English pattern ivory set: knights

Of the typical C18th so-called 'fish-hook' style, the manes are incised on the left hand side.
Photo: CH396 English pattern, ivory set - Rooks

Massive solid, monobloc rooks - 2.6in / 67mm

The white pair bear the full incised/stained brickwork typical of C18th sets, whereas the red pair only have the horizontal lines (with staining after the cutting).

One red rook is marginally smaller than the other three and may be a replacement, although it could equally be the infamous  'turner's license'.
Photo: CH396 - Old English ivory set

K= 4.2in / 102mm

A very substantial set with massive rooks - the white pair bearing the incised/stained brickwork.

Probably c.1800-1820
Photo: CH396 - to clean or not to clean?

The previous images were all taken after the set had been gently cleaned.  The left-hand piece in each pair is after cleaning, with the right-hand piece shown before cleaning.

There are those who believe that such 'patina' should be left; however, I personally think it best to remove what is essentially little more than sweat/grease and dirt - 'gunk'! It reveals the beauty of the ivory and shows the piece (as much as possible after 200 years) close to its original intended look.  I also don't like the idea of handling such 'gunk' when playing with the set - especially when you consider how easy it is to remove! 

Be careful how you clean 'though - it is very easy to remove or seriously 'thin' the red stain.
Photo: CH9; English, ivory c1820-40

3in / 76mm Kings. These feel larger, given the lack of a cross or significant top finial. 

I have long felt that we should ignore crosses etc in determining height as they can mask a lot - but: what do you in/exclude? Here, for example, there is a very slight conical protruberence from the cogged crown of the king to consider - it's only 1.5mm, but: in or out? For the record, in keeping with the norm, I have included it in the measurements given above.
Photo: CH09 Old English, Ivory, c1820-40 K=3" / 76mm

What might be termed a transitional set, with old-style knights etc. Both K's & Q's essentially the same shape - the Q's with a ball added to the stem. 

It's an odd pattern - on occasion I really like it, at other times...I do not: quite strongly! This was the first ivory set I bought.

Note the large bases to the pieces, which makes for greater stability; however these larger disks have a tendency to warp slightly as can be seen - eg the white rook & black bishop.
Photo: CH09 Knights - in the 'fish-hook' style common in the late C18th (see CH111 earlier in this album).

Simple, and economical of carving,  yet surprisingly attractive.
Photo: CH395 Calvert-pattern set  - ivory

K= 2.6in / 66.3mm

A small-sized, but attractive, set - with a pleasing (to me) gradual drop in the piece-height.

Unsigned, but the set bears all the characteristics of a Calvert-made set.

The firm was started by John Calvert in 1791, with some bearing his stamp 'Calvert 189 Fleet Stt'. John died in 1822 when his widow, Dorothy Calvert, subsequently ran the business until her death in 1840 (although it is thought that she may have stopped making chess sets several years earlier).

This set probably dates to about 1820
Photo: CH395 Calvert-pattern ivory set

Knights - very nicely carved
Photo: CH395 Calvert-pattern ivory set: family views
Photo: CH394 Lund-type ivory set

K= 3.25in /  83mm
Contained in a lovely slide-lid box, but is it original to the set?

'Lund' can refer to either Thomas Lund who established the firm in 1796 or to his son William, who first appears in 1835, but who took over his fathers business on the latters death in 1843. This particular set is 'unstamped' (although, more precisely, Lund sets are marked by exquisite engraving to the base of the white king and, occasionally, similarly printed labels to the base of the red king).

William Lund & Sons continued until well into the C20th - the last reference seen dating to the early 1960's!

Like many of these firms, making chess sets was only a small part of their business - but the sets could be exquisite.

At different times the Lunds operated from 56-57 Cornhill and 24-25 Fleet Street - both, of course, in London.
Photo: CH394 Lund-type set

The main photo is a 'family' photo of the white pieces in my set. Although unsigned/unstamped it is pretty much identical to similar sets held by other collectors, which are sometimes stamped.

The three smaller images are of similar Lund sets (two stamped) held by Jon Crummiller, and can be seen on his wonderful site :


Mine would appear to be by William Lund, and most likely dates to the mid-1800's, say 1845-75.
Photo: CH394 - Lund set knights

Fairly typical of knights heads found on Wm.Lund sets - they are extremely well-carved and both look and feel superb.
Photo: CH394 - Lund set

Top of the white king and its cross, showing the screw connector.
Photo: CH93; English, ivory, mid C19th K=4“