For over 300 years, the game of chess has been a fertile ground for global designers and artisans to reinterpret and give fresh expression to the way chess sets have been designed and crafted.
The mid-19th century witnessed a degree of design consolidation, as the Staunton line of chessmen, emerged as the universally accepted design standard for international tournaments.
But before long, designers and craftsmen began to improvise, creating variants which, while they conform to the basic design grammar of the Staunton line, displayed distinctive design touches influenced by tastes and sensibilities of their country or region of origin.
Antique Chess Sets
A plethora of historic pre- and post-Staunton design variants from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, have added immeasurably to the legacy of chess. The aesthetic appeal of some, have transcended generations and cultures to establish themselves as timeless and treasured antiques.
These antique chess sets have always been in demand amongst collectors and connoisseurs around the world. But, while in absolute terms this comprises a fairly large number of people, they actually represent a mere fraction of the total population of mainstream chess enthusiasts.
The Growing Frenzy
However, over the last couple of years, two factors have combined to create something of a craze around antique chess sets, among the greater population of mainstream enthusiasts a.k.a. ‘casuals’
The Global Pandemic
- With millions confined to their homes, a large number of ‘casuals’ have deepened their engagement with their chosen game, are more interested in its rich heritage, and are more eager than ever before to acquire valuable antique chess sets that they feel drawn to.
The Queen’s Gambit
- A Netflix Original mini-series which traces the life and career of a fictitious female chess prodigy who went on to conquer the male-dominated world of professional chess. The show captured the imagination of an entire generation of ‘casuals’ and ignited their desire to own some of the most historic chess sets that were showcased over the course of the show.
Here’s a closer look as some of the most prominent antique chess set designs, painstakingly recreated by the master craftsmen at Royal Chess Mall, widely considered among the leading chess supplies manufacturers and retailers in the world today:
One of the earliest Staunton prototypes, The Leuchars Cook chessmen were named after William Leuchars, the retailer who sold limited edition versions of this classic vintage. These faithful replicas, hand-crafted by the master artisans at Royal Chess Mall are available in Ebony and Antiqued Boxwood, as well as in Crimson and White lacquered Boxwood.
Our reproduction of the Lessing Series, a Staunton variant sold by Jacques of London, who introduced the Staunton line of chessmen to the world, has been lovingly hand-turned and carved in the workshops of Royal Chess Mall. Triple-weighted for enhanced stability, this set is available in the Ebony-Boxwood combination.
Our replica of the 1970s variant of the Dubrovnik set, originally designed in in the 1950s is carved out of fine-grained Rosewood and Boxwood. This set was a personal favorite of former world champion, Bobby Fischer. Triple-weighted, with wide and chunky bases, these are most stable chessmen in circulation today.
The elegant and ergonomic Fischer-Spassky Championship set commemorates the 1972 world championship match between US Grandmaster Bobby Fischer and Soviet Grandmaster Boris Spassky. Available at Royal Chess Mall in Golden Rosewood-Boxwood, Bud Rosewood-Boxwood and Ebony-Boxwood combinations.
The Soviet Championship Tal chess set was used during the 1960 Soviet Chess Championship. Reproductions of these striking chessmen with their distinctive profiles, prominently ringed collars, and chunky bases, have been meticulously hand-carved by our master artisans, out of Ebonised Boxwood and Antiqued Boxwood.
This beautifully proportioned, minimalistic and abstract recreation of the Bundesform German Staunton Alternative chessmen, emerged as an alternative to the Staunton design in the 1930s. Our master artisans have lovingly hand-carved these reproductions out of Golden Rosewood and Boxwood as well Ebonised and Boxwood.
This distinctively designed Soviet Latvian set was a personal favorite of Soviet Grandmaster Mikhael Tal. These immaculately hand-carved reproductions from the Royal Chess Mall stables, has recently emerged as a best-seller, after it was prominently featured in the wildly popular Netflix original miniseries – The Queens Gambit. This set is available in Golden Rosewood and Boxwood.
Best known for being used at the legendary 1961 USSR World Championship match held between Soviet Grandmasters, Mikhail Tal and Mikhail Botvinnik, the Soviet Grossmeister Supreme Chessmen while modeled on the Staunton line, possess distinctively Soviet design features. Our replicas of these elegant chessman have been hand-carved out of Golden Rosewood and Boxwood.