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Monday, April 16, 2012

Staunton’s first chess box goes for £5800 in Carlisle

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

Do you know this very special chess was cautiously estimated £300-500 (the price of a standard carton-pierre casket) but two telephone bidders and a generous commission bid saw it sell at £5800 (plus 19.5% buyer's premium)?

Well, we have some auction chess news!
Roland Arkell writes the full story in the Antiques Trade Gazette.

By the early decades of the 19th century it was clear that the ancient and cosmopolitan game of chess would require pieces of standardised size and shape as it entered the era of international competition. And it was one Nathaniel Cook, editor of the Illustrated London News, who on March 1, 1849, registered the distinctive design that would achieve that aim.

Cook's Ornamental Design for a set of Chess Men was daring in its relative simplicity and utility (its trademark pieces the knight carved as a stallion's head from the Elgin marbles and the bishop with a diagonal cut to indicate a mitre) and it was quickly embraced by both a Hatton Garden purveyor of fine games and the era's leading player.

The combination of John Jaques, keen to embrace a design that could be produced at relatively low cost, and the endorsement of the product by the English chess master Howard Staunton (1810-1874), proved unstoppable. It was perhaps the first time that a celebrated name had been used to promote a commercial product in this way. It would not be the last.

According to adverts in the Illustrated London News dated September 8, 1849, the first Jaques Staunton pattern sets were available in "the finest African ivory (5 guineas), boxwood and ebony (£1/15 shillings or club size (£2/5 shillings) and Wedgwood's Carrara (£2/12/6 shillings)".

You can read further here.

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