Background Reading, Bar Games, Collecting vintage, Vintage style

Vintage chess set collecting information

Travel chess set wood peg-in board leatherette case 1960 France

This article offers information on vintage chess set collecting specific and general information on the chess game. Vintage chess sets are highly sought after by collectors but also by many enthusiasts. Chess sets have been collected for as long as they are around. Professional players have a personal preference for the type of pieces they play with, while enthusiast that do not know how to play the game can be marveled by a well made chess set that just speaks to them! And since The Queens Gambit-series is available on Netflix, there is a spike of interest in playing chess and everything around this intriguing game with it’s beautiful pieces.

Collecting vintage chess sets

Here are some key pieces of information about vintage chess set collecting:

  1. Types of Vintage Chess Sets: There are many types of vintage chess sets, including antique sets, traditional sets, theme sets, and art sets. Antique sets are those that are over 100 years old, while traditional sets are those that reflect the classic Staunton design. Theme sets feature designs inspired by specific cultures or historical periods, while art sets are designed to be aesthetically pleasing and may feature unique and intricate designs.
  2. Materials: Vintage chess sets can be made of a variety of materials, including wood, bone, ivory, metal, and even glass or crystal. Some sets may also feature inlaid materials, such as mother of pearl or precious stones.
  3. Rarity: The rarity of a vintage chess set can greatly impact its value. Sets that were only produced in limited quantities or were made by a renowned manufacturer can fetch high prices at auction.
  4. Condition: The condition of a vintage chess set can also greatly impact its value. Sets that are in pristine condition with no cracks or chips are more desirable than those that show signs of wear or damage.
  5. Authentication: It is important to verify the authenticity of a vintage chess set before purchasing it. This can be done through research or by consulting with a reputable dealer or appraiser.
  6. Displaying and Caring for Vintage Chess Sets: Vintage chess sets should be displayed in a manner that protects them from damage, such as in a glass case or on a felt-lined shelf. They should also be cared for properly by avoiding exposure to sunlight or moisture and by using gentle cleaning methods.
  7. Auctions and Dealers: Vintage chess sets can be found through auctions, antique shops, or specialty dealers, such as VintageManStuff. It is important to do research and choose a reputable seller to ensure the authenticity and value of the set.

Overall, collecting vintage chess sets can be a rewarding hobby for those who appreciate the history, craftsmanship, and artistry of these unique and valuable objects.

Short history on chess

Chess is believed to have originated in ancient India around the 6th century AD, where it was known as Chaturanga. The game was played with pieces representing various parts of the Indian army, including elephants, cavalry, chariots, and infantry.

Chaturanga spread to Persia, where it became known as Shatranj, and eventually made its way to the Islamic world and Europe. In the Islamic world, the game was modified to include new pieces, such as the bishop and queen, and the rules were refined.

During the Middle Ages, chess became a popular game of strategy and was played throughout Europe. It was often used as a tool to teach military strategy and was played by kings, nobles, and commoners alike.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, chess underwent several changes to its rules and became a popular international sport. The World Chess Federation was founded in 1924, and the first Chess Olympiad was held in 1927.

Today, chess is played by millions of people around the world and is considered one of the most popular and intellectually challenging board games. The game continues to evolve, with new strategies and variations being developed by players and enthusiasts. Since the introduction of the chess computer it is easier for enthusiast to reach new levels of playing.

Different types of chess sets

There are many different types of chess sets available, and they can vary significantly in terms of their design, materials, and overall style. Some of the main differences between chess sets include:

  1. Materials: Chess sets can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, and even glass. Each material offers a unique look and feel, and can affect the weight and durability of the pieces.
  2. Size: Chess sets can range in size from small travel sets to large, decorative sets that are designed to be displayed in a room.
  3. Style: Chess sets can also come in a variety of styles, from traditional Staunton designs to more modern or artistic sets that feature unique and creative designs.
  4. Weight and balance: The weight and balance of the pieces can affect the feel and playability of the set. Some sets are designed to be heavier and more solid, while others are lighter and more nimble.
  5. Cost: Chess sets can vary widely in price, with some basic sets costing just a few euro, while more elaborate or ornate sets can cost hundreds or even thousands of euro.

Main designs in chess sets

Vintage chess sets can also be arranged into their design. Designs often developed over a longer period and have taken specific design aspects that stayed the same and makes a vintage chess set recognizable as such. Below this article will take a closer look at some of the different chess designs.

Stanton chess design

The Staunton chess design is the standard design of chess pieces used in the game today. It is used for tournament and casual play, and has become iconic in the world of chess. It was designed by Englishman Nathaniel Cook in 1849 and named after the chess player Howard Staunton, who endorsed the design. The designs is easy recognizable and the pieces are very destinctive which reduces mistakes.

  • The king: represented by the tallest and slender piece with a cross on top.
  • The queen: represented by a tall piece with a coronet on top, little shorter than the king.
  • The rook: represented by a shorter, tower-like piece with a flat top and often a small dent in the center.
  • The bishop: represented by a piece with a narrow top and cut, resembling a bishop’s mitre.
  • The knight: represented by a distinctive horse’s head, with a curved neck and protruding ears.
  • The pawn: represented by a much smaller piece, often with a slightly tapered shape.

The Staunton design is now the standard design even though there are small differences between maker of these sets. The picture below shows some verity in size (made in many for sizes), color and detail which is due to the makers. The sets on the left are more common for Germany / the Netherlands while the set on the right is made in France with the detailed Lardy knight / horse while the one on the left is nicked the chicken.

different vintage Staunton chess set design

French regency chess set design

The French Regency chess set is a style of chess set that was popularized in France during the early 18th century, during the reign of King Louis XV. It is characterized by its elegant and ornate design, often featuring intricate carvings and embellishments. Mostly these are lathe turned with many curves and flourishes. The pieces of a French Regency chess set are often made from a variety of materials, including ivory, ebony, and boxwood.

  • The king: represented by the tallest .
  • The queen: represented by a tall piece .
  • The rook: represented by a shorter, r.
  • The bishop: represented by a piece
  • The knight: represented by a distinctive horse’s head, s.
  • The pawn: represented by a the smallest, slender often with a broad base and tapered shape.


  • St George –
  • USSR –
  • Irish



Chess computers

to play or to collect



Different brands of chess makers

Lardy chess sets – Made in France


Homas chess sets – Made in Holland / France


J.Jaques and Sons – Made in England


Pocket / travel chess sets


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