Antique Chess Sets

Here at the Official Staunton Chess Company, our master carvers have over the past 12 months created some of the best if not the best reproduction chess sets to date, many collectors have written to us to praise our efforts and have invested in our collections.  

 

1851 Staunton Cooke Reproduction Boxwood Ebony Chess Pieces - Official Staunton™
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1851 Staunton Cooke Reproduction Boxwood Ebony Chess Pieces

£499.00 GBP

English chess master, Howard Saunton, promoted this set at the first international chess tournament in 1849/1851. Its clearly distinguishable pi...

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£499.00 GBP
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3.5" Antiqued English Staunton Chess Pieces & Mahogany Box - Official Staunton™
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3.5" Antiqued English Staunton Chess Pieces & Mahogany Box

£149.95 GBP

ENGLISH ANTIQUE CHESS PIECES The Antiqued English design chess pieces are an exceptional mid-priced-level set.  The term "Antiqued" is that which...

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£149.95 GBP
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3.5" Leuchars Antique and Ebony  Chess Pieces & Box - Official Staunton™
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3.5" Leuchars Antique and Ebony Chess Pieces & Box

£379.00 GBP

  The Leuchars Chess Set is named after William Leuchars, the retailer who sold the first John Jaques sets in 1849 from his upmarket shop in Pic...

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£379.00 GBP
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4" Leuchars Antique Chess Pieces & Box - Official Staunton™

4" Leuchars Antique Chess Pieces & Box

£449.00 GBP

  The Leuchars Chess Set is named after William Leuchars, the retailer who sold the first John Jaques sets in 1849 from his upmarket shop in Pica...

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£449.00 GBP
5 Inch Steiner Reproduction Antique Boxwood & Ebonised Chess Pieces - Official Staunton™
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5 Inch Steiner Reproduction Antique Boxwood & Ebonised Chess Pieces

£249.00 GBP

We are thrilled to be the first chess company to initiate reproduction of the very famous and unique chessmen as used in the legendary Piatigors...

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£249.00 GBP
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Bulgarian Varna Olympiad Antique & Black Chess Pieces - Official Staunton™
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Bulgarian Varna Olympiad Antique & Black Chess Pieces

£149.95 GBP

The set is a faithful reproduction and features a 1 piece knight which proved to be very difficult to carve and turn as well as time-consuming, ...

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£149.95 GBP
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Here at the Official Staunton Chess Company, our master carvers have over the past 12 months created some of the best if not the best reproduction chess sets to date, many collectors have written to us to praise our efforts and have invested in our collections.  

 

We engage in the research of antique chess sets from manufacturers such as Jaques of London to the British Company and more recently, Russian antique chess pieces have seen a resurgence. 

The quality and accuracy of our antique chess sets are unsurpassed. We are fast emerging as the number one chess company in the World and are considered specialists in our field. We liaise with renown artists and chess set collectors and absorb a wealth of informative knowledge which aids us in the deciding factor on what chess set to reproduce. Having close contacts with the chess collectors is such a major boost in our endeavour to maintain the very high standards in which our customers have become accustomed to. 

Below is an image depicting the very popular 1849 Jaques Cooke Chess Pieces.  

 

As you can see the above set is a perfect example of an antique Jaques Cooke design chess piece set. This is the gold standard design that has become commonplace among chess collectors, in fact, suffice to say some of the serious chess set collectors will only consider a Staunton set for inclusion to their precious collection. 

Aside from the Staunton design pieces we periodically undertake projects to include matching chess boards and chess boxes, fashioned in the style of the bygone era. Our antique chess boards, for example, are the perfect platform to host our wonderful antique chess pieces, and suitable to use with our larger chess pieces up to 4.5 Inch. 

Modern Staunton Chess Sets vs. Antique Jacques of London Chess Sets

During subsequent years, chess has increasingly changed in terms of style and spread globally to entertain a range of audiences. Early chess pieces were plain and replicated royalty, warriors and animals. From the ninth to the twelfth century, chess pieces were made from clay or stone, to avoid depiction of living creatures, which cause less distraction during game play. As the game spread throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, these chess pieces became quite prominent. Following this, the Persian version was introduced to Western Europe, and then throughout Europe and Russia, where chess pieces became from being simple to highly ornate. It was during the fifteenth century that several changes were introduced to the pieces, such as the transformation of the counsellor to the queen, castling, and the two-square pawn advance.

As the game gained popularity, chess instruction books by Ruy Lopex and Damiano, helped people play the game better. However, the rules and aesthetics of the chess pieces evolved over the years to reach the current standard they are today. It was in the twentieth century that chess grew tremendously paving way for the development of chess organisations and the famous Staunton Pattern in 1849, to standardise the aesthetics of chess sets. In the following decades, in 1960 the first computer chess program was introduced followed by various technologies and algorithms. In 1998, Digital Game Technology (DGT) boards and pieces were introduced, which recorded the number of moves and pieces and allowed chess fans to follow games instead of waiting for them to be published in chess bulletins.

Earlier Antique Jacques of London Chess Sets

One of the first chess piece designs came about in 1790 to 1841 from John Calvert, where the king and queen had motifs of openwork crowns, the Bishop had a deep-fissured mitre and the Rook was a tower on a pedestal. However, the most common designs in the nineteenth century were that of St. George. The earlier versions of John Jaques chess pieces were unique in their outlook and were radically based on earlier Edinburgh Upright Chessmen. The John Jaques of London produced these chess pieces prior to World War Two. Later these were designed according to the Staunton Pattern in 1849. The chess pieces came in two options, a library size that was unweighted, and a standard size that came in both weighted and unweighted forms after 1855. There were various other sizes such as the small club and full club weighted sizes and ivory chess pieces that were unweighted.

The early wooden chess sets usually came in baize-lined mahogany hinge-top boxes, and in carton-Pierre caskets, which had mechanically numbered labels. Later these chess boxes were labelled on top and replaced by slide top boxes. As the ivory sets were unique and delicate, these came in carton Pierre caskets, mahogany hinge-top boxes and leather boxes with Spanish mahogany coffers. The latter sets had facsimile signatures on them, while the earliest 1000 sets had Howard Staunton hand-signed signatures on them with ‘Jaques London’ impressed on the labels.

Evolution of Modern Staunton Chess Sets

The Staunton Pattern was introduced and patented by Nathaniel Cooke but conceived by John Jaques. Jaques obtained the copyright for the design and began manufacturing the design in September 1849 under Jaques of London. These chess pieces rose to prominence when they were endorsed by their namesake and world-renowned chess player Howard Staunton. Staunton, a top player of the 1840s and a writer and promoter of chess, was the first receiver of the Staunton chess set, while there were numerous other sets proliferating across Europe. He was known to use these chess sets rigorously during chess championships and events. The Staunton chess set has 32 pieces, with 16 pieces for two sets. Each set there are eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, one queen, and one king. Staunton chess pieces or Staunton Chessmen were known for their distinguishable motifs for each chess piece that was intricately and meticulously handcrafted. These pieces did not entirely supersede the ornate designs but were known for the simplicity and elegance, combining lightness with the right weight, and predefined dimensions and proportions allowing all pieces to stand out distinctively.

The tallest among all chess pieces was the king, known to have a crown and cross as its motif, followed by the queen, which was slightly smaller with a coronate and a monde as its motif. The rook’s motif was shaped like a castle, the bishop’s like a mitre and the pawn’s with a small ball. All pieces changed considerably from the previous version and formed these standards after the pattern was introduced. Similarly, the Staunton chess board is made of 64 alternating dark and light squares, with eight rows and columns. The vertical columns are known as files while the rows were known as ranks and denoted by algebraic numbers.

The Staunton chess sets have transformed over the years to depict modernism and to improve robustness and proportions while taking into consideration factors such as cost, durability, level of experience, material, and purpose of play. The materials play a large factor into costs, such as the wood being used in making chess sets, from golden rosewood, boxwood, to maple, walnut and bud rosewood. Other raw materials included ivory, glass, clay, pewter, stone, Bakelite, Catalin, lead, plastic and expensive metals. As much as appearance was a factor, so much so was functionality and durability. Various other materials have been introduced into modern sets such as metal and plastic chess pieces, made out of highly polished moulds. These pieces were painted and finished with immaculate polishing and coloured using iron oxide to produce colours such as yellow, red, black, brown and tan in pieces.

The Future of Chess

Chess players over the last decades have become very proactive and learnt new methods of playing chess, including online gaming. These have paved way for various computerised games, to allow chess players to compete with either a computer or a chess player. The sophistication of these games have become highly popular over the years and improved the skill level and strategic intellect of many. In addition, future games have added variations such as the total number of players being up to four, moves not only going forward but backwards and up and down. The shapes of chessboards have also changed to allow more individuals and various other moves in the game.

Where to buy Modern and Antique Chess Sets?

There is a range of modern Staunton and antique Jaques chess sets that can be bought from the Official Staunton Chess Company which do not only provide the latest Staunton chess sets but a range of antique and luxury sets, offering high value for money. The antique pieces are finely handcrafted and carved in diverse woods such as Acacia, Sheesham, Ebony and Rosewood. The

luxury pieces are known for the high-end wood, and aesthetics that are naturally elegant and charming. The modern magnetic travel sets are portable with slotted compartments in storage boards and travel pouches for older players and magnetic folding chess sets for children.

The Official Staunton Chess Company also replicates some of the antiques after doing a thorough research and ensures the accuracy of antique chess sets is unsurpassed. World-renowned artists and chess collectors’ work on creating these pieces based on the wealth of knowledge they have absorbed over the number of years to create these masterpieces.

The 1849 Jaques Cooke Chess Pieces are among the most wanted antique chess pieces and are a gold standard for chess collectors. Chess players who are looking to indulge in a variety of options must make one of these chess sets a part of their collection. The Reproduction Jaques Chess Sets from the early 1900s is a very special piece of Collecting History. This is the case with virtually all, if not all Collecting pieces from the ancient world. This particular Chess Set is an original design from the time of the original Jaques Chess Board.

Many antique collectors and buyers make the mistake of believing that quality reproduction chess pieces will be more affordable than true antique reproduction chess pieces. A large part of this is due to the cost of the labour involved in manufacturing these products. Not only does it cost more to manufacture, but it costs much more to get the materials needed to produce these pieces as well. Reproductions are not a good option for every collector or buyer. This is especially true if the collector or buyer is seeking the best quality reproductions possible. Some will simply not accept a reproduction as being of the highest quality possible. Even if a collector does decide to purchase a reproduction, they should be aware that there is no guarantee that they will get the best quality pieces from certain retailers who ship directly from India.  Sure you may get a knockoff design or it may not even be as nice as the original piece. Again the problem comes down to how much money the collector is willing to spend on the item. It's true that if a reproduction has a better design than the original piece that the original may become more valuable. However, many collectors just don't care. This is why many, if not most, collectables including the Reproduction Jaques Chess Set are reproductions.

 

The better, and more detailed the reproduction, the more valuable the piece will be. This is the exact reason why collectors and buyers like the Jaques Chess Set reproduced by the Official Staunton Chess Company so much. It's not only a beautiful design but it is also a nice piece and always competitively priced That is not to say that a quality reproduction is necessarily better than a quality original. A replica is a really nice piece if the reproductions have the correct materials, the correct finish, and the correct design. This is the primary reason why these kinds of Collecting items always seem to sell out. If you are in the market for quality products or collectables you should be careful. Collectors like the Collecting item because of the design and the beauty of the item, not because of the price. Although a reproduction design may be more desirable, that doesn't mean that you should pay much more for it.

 

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