Saturday, April 16, 2011

Early English set

This bone set has several interesting features. It is unmistakably English and has all markers of 1700s which could be seen in Washington pattern as well: urn-like bases and necks + bent horse heads. All pieces besides Rooks are normal 18th C. English.

The rooks, however, are quite similar to the well known elaborate "Spanish pulpit" pattern which most probably has not anything to do with Spain. See examples of that pattern here, here and here. Besides Rooks, all these sets have common colour of the black side and the screw threads seem to be similarly manufactured as well. Researchers and collectors like Michael Mark and Hans & Barbara Holländer (see the famous exhibition catalogue) have long classified these sets as English but attribution to Spain still persists among some people. My set might be considered a further proof for the English origin.

The trouble with the Pulpit pattern is that there does not seem to exist two identical Pulpit sets and their number is rather low compared to the output of major chess set makers. It is still unknown if the same maker produced other sets and who he might have been. This set, for example, is rather similar to mine albeit Rooks.

All 32 pieces are present. There are some restorations (one Black Knight head is replaced and some crenellations repaired) which do not affect the overall impression. Rather contrary, some damage is expected if a chess set is more than 200 years old. The set has not been restained. Taking into account the original colour, screw threads etc., I am completely convinced that the Rooks are original to this set.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Early Selenus pieces

A collection of Continental Selenus pattern pieces made of bone. It is not even a partial set, but all kinds are represented and the existing pieces are in good order. One can spot similarities with 18th C English Bird Nest pattern. The small-headed Knight looks also rather early. I think that the lot comes from the 18th century.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My first Italian set

A wooden chess set from the 18th century Italy.

Came with a box-board with drawer for wooden checkers. The board might come from the same period since the veneer is hand-sawn. The joints seem to be hand-made as well. It would be a definite marker of 18th century manufacture if it was British, but I am not so sure about Italy. The set itself is housed in a round container, which is most probably original.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bird Nest

An 18th-century ivory set from England. This small-cupped pattern is often called "Bird Nest" and looks like an English variation of Continental Selenus design.

The Knight head is pretty well worked for it's small size. It seems to have similarities with carvings of some French Knights from the same period.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Danish variation of the Selenus pattern

An ultra-classic example of Danish Selenus pattern variation. These rather small but elegant and delicate bone sets are commonly dated to late 18th century.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fine and interesting Selenus set

This set might be Danish but could in fact originate from Germany, Austria or Netherlands just as well. A somewhat similar but fancier set can be seen in "Schach Partie Durch Zeiten und Welten" page 222.

The same set photographed with flashlight.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


They constantly erect modern buildings next to grand and historical ones. The Tower of London looks like a puppet show decoration among the glass and concrete mountains.

Another example of this disgusting practice.

British humour?

Too bad that the 2-story buses are intended to be put out of use. They are fun to ride if you get a good place and great for sightseeing (and what a merry sight it is in the present case!)

Tourist items in 221B Baker Street (the Sherlock Holmes museum). One can see a horn Regence set often listed at eBay as vintage or antique among other brand new tourist chess sets. This one is interesting for two reasons. First, I did not have evidence that they are still producing them until today. Secondly, mind the White Knight with black base. Looks like something had gone wrong with either bleaching or staining process. They might make the both sides from one kind of horn after all, although the sets are usually listed as buffalo and cow horn. I do not know enough about that material to tell for sure but whatever the truth is, the piece on the picture does raise suspicions.

Mr. D. in action. The pictures are available at


Medieval bone playing pieces and dice exhibited in the Tower of London.

A gorgeous rock crystal chess piece from the 11th century exhibited in the Tower of London.