Official Staunton Chess Sets considered Heirlooms among Collectors
'll bet when Jaques of London created his Staunton set did he ever envision his sets being worth very much. Remember Jaques was into all types of games, not just chess. The Staunton pattern was designed by a utilitarian set, built to take a beating unlike chess sets of the day with all their fine carvings. The ONLY reason that the pattern still exists is a pure marketing genius. Whether was Jaques or his brother-in-law who persuaded Howard Staunton, who -- if stories are true -- had an ENORMOUS ego, convinced him to lend his name to this simplified design. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Fast forward to the present time. House of Staunton has re-invigorated chess piece design. Some of the sets being produced today could qualify as works of Art compared to Early Jaques of London sets, which are absolutely PRIMITIVE compared to some of the sets being produced today. Indeed many of today's sets are being designed more or less with the same ideals in mind as those Early Jaques sets were created for: Less ornamental design which could be broken, but still designed to take a beating. And most sets designed today can a fair amount of hard play. These modern-day Staunton sets are faithful and true to the underlying philosophy behind those early Staunton sets, the difference can be seen in the detail carved into each set.
Before House of Staunton, all we had were a bunch of poor quality knockoffs of the original Staunton pattern, HOS instituted, for instance, the concept of having TWO queens in a set per side, not just one, now EVERY company has followed suit; HOS designed Staunton sets that were future-looking such as their Empire Set that was featured in Star Wars; they introduced sets made with other types of woods other than the "Traditional Boxwood and Ebony" sets, and the Artistic High-Quality Sets that are being produced today are further proof as to the enormous impact that HOS has had of the production of HIGH-QUALITY sets, not just by them, but by the entire ecosystem -- if it is junk it will be not long be remembered.
If I were to ask WHICH Jaques set was the BEST set ever produced there would be arguments galore -- some would point to the 1849 set, others the Anderson Sets and so on, but the Era of Jaques sets had both a Beginning and an End and IF you bought ANY Jaques Chess Set you were guaranteed to have bought a HIGH-QUALITY set. Then somewhere probably around the 1930s, Jaques became a shadow of itself, producing a bunch of crap that would have never seen the light of day when those first Staunton sets were produced. Today Jaques is still a Shadow of its former glory, trying to capitalize on its glory years of the 1800s. Today it is the House of Staunton and Official Staunton Chess Co. that is re-imagining Chess Sets for the 21st Century. They are not only recreating the Jaques 1849 set -- for traditionalists -- but are creating a true FANTASY set that was actually supposedly available for sale but none have ever turned up. It was a Club Set in Boxwood and Rosewood.
Those who believe that a HOS or an Official Staunton set created today will not be worth very much in 50- 100 years has failed to grasp the lesson of those Early Jaques of London sets. They were created strictly to be utilitarian -- no one ever expected that they would ever be coveted sets 170 years later. 170 years ago Jaques of London was a name associated with Quality; 170 years later it is House of Staunton, Official Staunton, and NOJ. If you buy *any* of their sets you are guaranteed to have bought a HIGH-QUALITY set.
People living 170 years from now -- assuming we have not blown ourselves up, or killed each other off over petty differences -- may look back as the current age as the Golden Age of Chess Set Innovation.
Credits to the author: azbobcat