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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chess chat with master craftsman

Master craftsman Bill Jones, 89, is
a fifth-generation chess maker

Hello Everyone!

The First World War wiped out the majority of skilled craftsmen who made chess pieces. This helps to explain why most collectable chess sets were produced more than 100 years ago!

This revelation comes from master craftsman Bill Jones, 89, who is a fifth-generation chess maker. Bill Jones of Canvey Island, Essex, is a fifth-generation chess maker in a trade begun by his family in the mid 19th Century. His father, Bertram, made sets that were sought after by collectors. Bertram sets that sold for £20 a couple of decades ago now fetch up to £3,000.

"Chess is not just a game - it is a form of art," says Bill.

Luke Honey, chess consultant for auction house Bonhams, in central London, says knights are the most important figures to scrutinise when assessing a set. Their shape means that they cannot be turned by machine, but require a skilled craftsman.

As with all chess sets, having all the pieces and the original box is ideal. However, particularly fine and rare sets that include sympathetic replacements are still highly collectable and valuable.

It is important to handle a set before buying. Sets with missing pieces are worth far less, so check for bad forgeries that feel sharper to the touch than smoother pieces handled through years of playing.

You can read this interesting article in full here.

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