My favourite - 3 dozen - chess items
Oct 1, 2009Public
Photo: CH4: The other "Rose Set" - created by Philip Rose who had a small studio in Westward Ho!, North Devon. This was the first set he made - bought in the early 1970s, before he had really set a price. A gifted sculptor, that I had been to many times before. Sadly, he died not that long afterwards.

For more images of this set see 'Oddities' album:
Photo: CH216: Eng; likely by 'Ayres'; K=3.9in, base 1.65in; weighted & clothed, c1900. This particular set was used by the previous owner in his simultaneous games in the 1970's against Grandmasters Korchnoi, Hort and Szabo. A beautiful set with a history that I am very pleased to own. The pictures here do not do this set justice.        

 A larger - 4.4in - set was made, although I do not have one. A fortunate fellow collector does - see The set is of a similarly high quality, with identical characteristics to this 3.9in version. Apart from the extra height, there is no discernible difference between the two sets.

For more images of and comments on this set see
Photo: CH67: Staunton-based set by the British Chess Company - 1890's; King=3 3/8ths in. Knights with Xylonite (early plant- based plastic) heads. Xylonite was essentially the same as Parkesine - the first man-made plastic in c.1862; Parkesine failed in 1868, but the material was taken up by the Xylonite Company in 1869. The use of this by BCC is probably the first instance of a plastic chess-man. Sadly, they weren't popular - although I love them: they can take on an appearance akin to Meerschaum , a clay used to produce (smoking) pipes.

For more images of this set see
Photo: CH123: Ah - is it or isn't it? Possibly an Old English pattern set by the British Chess Company - 1890's, with undoubted Xylonite (early plant-based plastic) knights' heads. King=2.9". The originality of this set has been disputed - but it is lovely, come what may.Some small restoration by the "eminence grise" - AD .

For more images relating to this set,  see
Photo: CH44: Jaques "Library" size set 1885-90. A small - King=2, 7/8th in - but lovely, set. Box & ebony (not shown). A Knight's ear repaired by AD.

For more images of this set see 'Jaques' album:
Photo: CH142; Jaques Staunton, Library-size, King=2.8in; box/ebony. Lovely patination in the "flesh - much better than in this photo (note to self: then take another, you silly boy!)

For more images of this set see 'Jaques' album:
Photo: CH102: Jaques' box/ebony Staunton, weighted, King=3.5in. Not their finest, but a good size/feel to it: I use it a lot for playing - I don't have to feel too precious about it!

For more images of this set, see 'Jaques' album:
Photo: CH348 A boxwood/stained boxwood set - ? mid/late C19th; most likely continental?

K = 2.77in / 70.4mm

Further images pertaining to this set can be seen, starting:

Although this is 'only' a copy-cat Hallet-type set, I like its shapes and proportions. These are perhaps reminders that the Staunton design did not have it all its own way in the mid-late C19th - others were attempting to fight back with sets that embodied principles behind the Staunton design, yet still favoured the earlier styles. That they ultimately failed is obvious from history - but it took a long time for Staunton to become supreme.
Photo: CH141: A Staunton set by the french firm of Lardy - weighted and pre WW11. Lardy industrialised the production of sets to a great degree (although they are still of reasonble quality) and took over the decent-quality market in the UK/US to a large extent - resulting in firms like Jaques dropping their quality to seek to compete. In their turn, Lardy later seemed to lose out to the upcoming Indian producers. A nice set to play with.

For other images of this set, see 'Other Staunton' album:
Photo: CH306 German 'Nuremburg Barleycorn' wooden set  

K=10cm / 3.9in

This set follows the English so-called 'plain-Barleycorn' style (which I consider to be a misnomer, as there is no barleycorn motif in the least on either these or their English brethren!), but with the addition of more German-looking knights and rooks.

According to Schach Partie, these are from the Nuremburg region and date to c.1850's. Like the English Barleycorn designs, however, it was presumably made over quite a long period and into the C20th.

Although light - something I normally dislike in a chess set - this set appeals greatly to me.

For more images see:
Photo: CH82; German c.1890. King=2.7in
Photo: A St George set in box/rosewood (apart from knights heads). One of my early sets, bought in the 1970's , for which I have great affection.
Photo: CH111: An ivory mid/late C18th "Washington" style set. Possibly the best bargain buy I've made -  although I salved my conscience - marginally - by paying more than the seller asked for. 


For further images of this set, see "English, non-Staunton' album:
Photo: C112; English, ivory, mid C19th K=2.9in
Photo: CH93 English, ivory, mid-C19th K=4in
Photo: CH330 'Anglo-Indian' ivory set : mid-C19th

K = 3.76in / 96mm

Not long ago, these sets were described as 'Maltese' but are now known to be of Indian manufacture.

There are indications from the pieces that this is a 'made-up' set, but it is very pleasant anyway. The pieces are heavy and, apart from the slightly top-heavy kings, quite stable for play.

More images of the set can be seen here:

Some flaws can be seen here:  They should be enough to put anyone off this set - but I still can't help liking it! In fact, I find myself liking it more and more as time passes - I keep it out in our living room: it is lovely to look at, and the pieces are very distinctive for play.
Photo: CH36: Ivory set - I was originally told that this was Indian from c.1825, but doubt this. Thin and elegant pieces.

For more images of this set, see 'Non-European' album:
Photo: CH242; Cantonese ivory staunton set - K=3.75in.  This has more of an "upright" look to many of the pieces than my other similar set (CH78), and is quite attractive. It came in the box shown with the  - working - tasselated key. Late C19th. Although quite different, it reminds me very much of my other set  - CH36.

For more images of this set, see 'Other Staunton' album:
Photo: CH80: Ivory, African - possibly Kenyan - C20th
Photo: CH85: Indian ivory set c.1900 - the sides only diffentiated by the pattern at the base of the "blacks". 

King = 3.3 in.

For more images of this set, see'Non-European' album:
Photo: CH105: A simple small (KIng=2.25in) bone set that really took my "fancy" - and still does. Sadly, with some missing pieces - if anyone can ever oblige............
Photo: CH152: A lovely heavy weighted late C19th set. It's not sure whether this is French (as I believe) or German - some say it may be English (see comments on a similar set held by Guy Lyons) but I cannot really see this as feasible. Guy dislikes it on such as small board - but I have left the picture as it emphasizes its scale: imposing!

For more images of this set, see 'European' album:
Photo: CH128: A Vietnamese Ivory & Horn set - Regence style - mid C20th. I already had a slightly smaller Horn/Bone set with a nice laquer board, but this is a better set - thanks to Marco for pointing me towards what turned out to be a bargain!
Photo: CH114: A Cantonese-export ivory peg-set from c.1900. This is very similar in style to a full size ivory set I have and, in small size, is an absolute delight - the carving is super. There is some damage, but I can live with this for now.

For more images of this set, see 'Travel sets' album: