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.