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.


paulodesouza chessfractal said...

Hello, good afternoon:
I have a website ( which informed of my works of Art Chess. I would like to inform your audience and be able to exchange links. Also receiving comments.
A greeting

Paulo de Souza

Anonymous said...


I'm very much interested in finding more information about your chess sets, please contact me at

Thanks and talk to you soon!!!

Laurent Auzeric said...

Dear Sir,

I'm not a chess specialist so please forgive me if my message is not appropriate. I'm a fine art expert, specialized in Old masters (16th and 17th c) and modern paintings. I came accross this week end of an ivory chess set, extremely nice quality and in perfect conditions, all 32 pieces are different and in a quite nice box. It has been sold to the previous owner as late 19th century, in my opinion it's early or first pârt of 20th c. Anyway, it's quite rare aparently. The smallest piece is 7,5 cm and the tallest (king) in 13,5 cm. Sculpture quality is extremely fine and nice. If interest in knowing more, I could send you pictures if you let me know of your e-mail adress.

With best regards

Laurent Auzeric
General Secretary CECOA : - European Chamber of Expert Advisors in Fine Art
+33 (0)6 25 95 78 39

Simon Purkis said...

To the Anonymous Chess Collector, Dear Sir,

Congratulations on your superb collection of Chess sets and thank you for sharing them on your site. I especially like your Selenus set posted on Nov 5th 2008.

I have just launched new company - Purling London. The concept is contemporary, luxury Chess sets that contrast traditional hand-carved Staunton pieces against abstract, modern art and light.

Our Art Chess products are individually hand painted by our specially commissioned British based contemporary artists including Olivia Pilling, Joanna Scislowicz and Richard Morrissey. Our Dark Chess products juxtaposition hand craftsmanship, bold colour and deep shadows whilst glowing with cutting-edge board technology. We also welcome personal commissions.

More details can be found at:

I recently exhibited at the London Chess Classic - it was a great event (+ I met Magnus Carlsen!)

Thanks again for sharing your Chess collection and research. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Kind regards,
Simon Purkis

Simon Purkis MEng CEng MIMechE
Purling London Ltd.

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