England

In England, or better the British Islands, you find the most variety in types/patterns. They are sometimes called after a town or a famous maker. This does not always mean that the set is actually made in that town or by that maker. In other cases reference is made to a famous person or a chess club.

On my Google photo pages more photos of English pieces.

I call this set "Old English". However this name is also used for sets better known as "St.George". Actually, there is no common accepted naming convention for sets like these. Maybe because these sets are extremely rare.

204 02
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  • England, "Old English"
  • 1st half 18th century
  • Ivory K 6.9; p 3.5

The "George Washington" sets are called that way, because George Washington did own a set that is similar. Here some examples.

092 02
« 1 of 6 »
  • England, "George Washington"
  • Late 18th century
  • Bone K 8.5; p 4.0
  • Box 16.7×11.3×7.3
363 01
  • England, "George Washington"
  • Late 18th century
  • Ivory K 8.6; p 3.6

These "Spiked" sets were made in the 18th century, but I'm not sure when the production stopped. Probably early 19th century. They exist in a wide variety. This set is a nice example of one of the later sets of this type.

102 02
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  • England, "Spiked"
  • 18th-19th century
  • Bone K 7.8; p 3.5

This "Playing" set was made in the 18th or early 19th century.

253 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England
  • 18th-19th century
  • Ivory K 8.6; p 3.8

John Calvert worked from 1791 until his death in 1822, after which his widow Dorothy took over until her death in 1840. He is one of the top chess set makers, well known of his beautiful Knights.

This very early set is historically interesting because the Knights are in the 18th century manner instead of the later carved Knights. Also, the long thread that connects the head to the stem is seldom seen. Normally, Knights in such sets are monoblock or connected with a pin.

The wooden set has been certainly made by Calvert, although it is not signed and came with a box like those of Hezekiah Dixon. Most remarkable are the exceptionally well carved Knights, which are made of one piece of wood. A feature seldom seen in "St.George" type sets.

093 03
« 1 of 9 »
  • England, by Calvert
  • 18th or early 19th century
  • Ivory K 9.7; p 4.1
  • Box 16.5×12.2×6.8
  • Box signed "CALVERT 189 FLEET STT"
162 02
« 1 of 6 »
  • England, by Calvert "St.George"
  • 1st half 19th century
  • Boxwood + rosewood K 9.3; p 4.7
  • Box by Hezekiah Dixon? 22.1×14.5×7.1
  • Knights are made of one piece of wood!

George Merrifield is maybe the best turner of his time. His chess sets are outstanding in precision and beauty. As far as I know are all "Merrifield" sets actually made by George Merrifield and not by other manufacturers. George Merrifield worked from about 1819 till his dead in 1855.

219 02
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, by George Merrifield
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory K 8.9; p 4.0
  • Box 22.8×10.5×6.6
155 02
« 1 of 4 »
  • England, by George Merrifield, "St.George" (pegged)
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory K 4.2; p 2.3

"Lund" type sets are called after chess sets made by father Thomas (early 1800's until his death in 1843) and son William (throughout the rest of the 19th century) Lund, Cornhill London. We have seen signed sets of both. This type was very popular and has been made by several other manufacturers.

300 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, "Lund"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Ivory K 11,7; p 5.5

"Lind/Fisher" type chess sets are recognized by the open worked crowns of the King and Queen. Typically these sets are of large size. The box of this set is small and high, which could be the original box. Sorry, I have no picture of the box yet. The sets were most likely made by William Lund, although Samuel Fisher is listed as an Ivory Turner in the mid-1860's, so he could have made sets as well.

351 01
  • England, "Lund/Fisher"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Ivory K 12.5; p 4.9
  • Box 23.9×10.9×15.9 (not pictured)

(John) Jaques is probably the most successful maker. At least longest existing, from 1795 till the present day. Most famous, of course, is the "Staunton" pattern, which was patented on March 1, 1849, by Nathaniel Cook, 198 Strand, London. Cook was the brother in law of Jaques. But a lot of other chess set patterns was found in their famous pattern book: "Barleycorn", "Calvert type", "Dublin", "Edinboro Upright", "St.George", etc. Jaques did invent and make a whole lot of other type of games as well and is still in business today. Here 2 Jaques "Staunton" sets.

287 01
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  • England, by Jaques, "Staunton" ("late Anderssen")
  • ca. 1865
  • Boxwood + ebony K 7.4; p 3.7
  • Box 16.0×11.6×6.8
037 02
« 1 of 6 »
  • England, by Jaques, "Staunton" ("Broadbent")
  • ca. 1935
  • Boxwood + ebony K 9.7; p 5.3
  • Box 21.8×16.8×10.8

There are a lot of other makers or retailers, like Asprey, F.H.Ayres, J.Barr, BCC, B&C, De La Rue, H.Dixon, C.Hastilov, W.Howard, Wedgwood, R.Whitty, to name a few. I do not have "Staunton" examples of all of these makers, but you can find other types of some of them elsewhere on my site. Here 2 "Staunton" examples.

The business and factory of Frederick Henry Ayres, manufacturer, was situated at 111 Aldegate, London, from 1864. I have several non-Staunton F.H.Ayres sets, which you can find at other England pages.

159 02
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  • England, "Staunton"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 6.5; p 3.5
184 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • England, by B&C London, "Staunton"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 7.4; p 4.

More "Staunton" pattern sets at "The Rose Set", Britain and the Plastic sets.


The name of "St.George" sets is derived from the London's chess club "St.George", where these kind of figures were used. They are definitely the most widespread type of sets in Britain, apart from the later Staunton sets.

Here some examples of British "St.George" sets. These are often called "Old English" as well, but in my opinion that name is better to reserve for the English designs of the 18th century.

The 1st set are pieces of a travel set by Merrifield.

The 2nd set is made by Calvert. It is one of my favourites because of the most beautiful Knights I have seen on English sets of this type. The Knights are made in one piece, which is rare in this kind of set.

The following other 4 sets are more common sets of unknown makers.

155 02
« 1 of 4 »
  • England, by George Merrifield, "St.George" (pegged)
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory K 4.2; p 2.3
162 02
« 1 of 6 »
  • England, by Calvert "St.George"
  • 1st half 19th century
  • Boxwood + rosewood K 9.3; p 4.7
  • Box by Hezekiah Dixon? 22.1×14.5×7.1
  • Knights are made of one piece of wood!
208 02
« 1 of 6 »
  • England, "St.George"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Boxwood + rosewood K 9.1; p 3.9
468 01
« 1 of 2 »
  • England, "St.George"
  • 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 7.9; p 3.5
231 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, "St.George"
  • 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 9.2; p 3.9
331 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, "St.George"
  • 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 10.6; p 4.3

I got information of this travel set sold by W.H.Smith under the name "THE TRAVELLERS' CHESS BOARD, WITH CHESS MEN COMPLETE." by W.H.Smith & Son, 136, Strand, London and the railway station. W.H.Smith were sellers of a wide range of goods at railway stations from the late 1840's. It's believed that the sets were made over a long period and the turned pieces changed in later years. Maybe the sets were made by a London maker for W.H.Smith?

The "slope Knight" set is in fact a cheaper variant as no cutting is required apart from some simple incisions.

178 01
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  • England, by Jaques or W.Howard? "St.George"
  • Mid 19th century (sold as 1900)
  • Bone K 3.3; p 1.6
  • Box/board 15.3×7.7×2.8
347 01
« 1 of 2 »
  • England, "St.George with slope knights"
  • ca. 1900
  • Wood K 5.6; p 2.4
  • Original box 11.8×8.5×4.8

Next 2 sets are listed here because their relation to "St.George". One is a vegetable ivory set with "Dublin" influence and the other is a German set similar to the "St.George". Often the latter is confused with the English "St. George" sets, but the quality of German sets is usually much less than the British ones. Also the type of wood used is mostly of lesser quality.

209 02
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  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "St.George with Dublin influence"
  • ca. 1900
  • Tagua nut (vegatable ivory) K 8.6; p 4.3
131 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • Germany (in Engllish St. George style)
  • Early 20th century
  • Maple? K 6.5; p 2.5
  • Box/Board 26.0×25.8×5.2

This set is called "Upright". These attractive sets were designed for the Edinburgh chess club by Lord Jon Hay in the 1840’s. Jaques made sets called "Edinboro Upright", but they are also referred to as "Northern Upright".

The 2nd set listed here is not in the traditional "Upright" manner, but mostly called so. One can certainly say it is "Upright inspired". Dating is also disputable: some say early 19th century, but others say late 19th century. I tend to believe the later dating.

392 03
« 1 of 5 »
  • England, "Upright"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Wood K 8.3; p 4.4
292 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, "Upright inspired"
  • Late (or early?) 19th century
  • Bone K 8.4; p 4.5

I do not have a real "Dublin" set in my collection. But this vegetable ivory set has a certain "Dublin" influence, as well as some "St.George".

209 02
« 1 of 7 »
  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "St.George with Dublin influence"
  • ca. 1900
  • Tagua nut (vegatable ivory) K 8.6; p 4.3

"Calvert type" chess sets are called because Calvert did make these flower decorated sets. I'm not sure he was the first one, but certainly not the only one. Merrifield did make them and this set is believed to be Jaques.

286 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, by (most likely) Jaques, "Calvert"
  • ca. 1840
  • Ivory K 8.4; p 3.9

On my Google photo pages more photos of English pieces.

Next sets are all "Barleycorn" sets. Strictly spoken, the Jaques "Nr.24" set isn't a "Barleycorn", because there is no real barleycorn grain motive except for some leaves. But it is commonly accepted to call it a "Barleycorn" set. The other 2 sets do have a clear barleycorn grain motive on their barrel.

The essence for the name is in fact decoration with the grain. But often you see leaves as well. Occasionally you see sets with an acanthus motive, which mistakenly are called 'Barleycorn". Another  mistake is that these sets (especially when they have no decoration) are called "Ropetwist" by many. But the latter is actually the name for the scarce set as you see on the "Ropetwist" page.

185 02
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  • England, by Jaques, "Nr. 24", "Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 13.6; p 4.9
316 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, "Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 10.0; p 4.1
112 02
« 1 of 4 »
  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 13.3; p 4.7

Next sets are all "plain Barleycorn" sets. They are still called "Barleycorn" by most people, although there is no barleycorn motive. But the shape is alike the decorated "Barleycorn" sets. These sets are very common, except that the last set of the four has a less common pattern.

176 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "plain Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 12.1; p 4.5
142 02
« 1 of 4 »
  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "plain Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone (repainted black) K 11.1; p 4.1
141 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • England, by Jaques? "plain Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 9.0; p 3.4
349 01
« 1 of 2 »
  • England, "plain Barleycorn"
  • ca. 1860
  • Bone K 9.3; p 3.8
  • Box 17.7×11.4×9.5

On my Google photo pages more photos of English pieces.

This set is a "Ropetwist" set, called after the decoration on King and Queen which simulates a twisted rope. Very often that name is mistakenly used for ordinary "(plain) Barleycorn" sets. On the other hand "Ropetwist" sets aren't recognized always as such. I think it is because these sets are extremely scarce. I have seen only a couple of these.

043 03
« 1 of 5 »
  • England, "Ropetwist"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone (or ivory?) K 9.3; p 3.4
  • Box (chinese!) 13.8×11.4×9.1

On my Google photo pages more photos of English pieces.

Next sets are "Playing" sets, without a specific naming convention. One or two of them may be called "Barleycorn" by some, but they are not. In auction catalogues you see always just "Playing set", so I do not know a better description.

If you know, please let me know...

The secret of the second set is that it actually has been composed of 2 sets. The Kings, Knights and Rooks are of a Dorothy Calvert set and the Queens (which actually are Kings!), Bishops and pawns of a Captain Cook set. It came in a nice box, which is not pictured (yet). I bought this set recently and should have looked better. Even if you have some experience, then always be alert. Be warned!

The last set in this series could have been placed in the "small Playing" sets category as well. The shape is very similar, but it just has some bigger proportions. Note that this same set was mistakenly called "Barleycorn".

253 01
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  • England
  • 18th-19th century
  • Ivory K 8.6; p 3.8
492 01
« 1 of 6 »
  • England, composed set
  • ca. 1830
  • Ivory K 8.2; p 3.6
215 02
« 1 of 7 »
  • England, some call it "(plain) Barleycorn"
  • 1st half 19th century
  • Ivory K 12.2; p 4.4
388 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • England
  • Mid 19th century
  • Ivory K 8.6; p 3.5
223 02
« 1 of 7 »
  • England
  • ca. 1860
  • Ivory K 7.8; p 3.3
  • Box 19.5×12.4×7.5
144 02
« 1 of 4 »
  • England
  • ca. 1870
  • Ivory K 8.7; p 3.7
055 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, by F.H.Ayres
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 8.1; p 3.0
  • Box 19.2×9.0×6.3

"small Playing" sets are extremely common. There was a time that you could find even more than 1 every week on Ebay. Nowadays the offer is much less, but still is it one of the most offered ones. I do have several of these sets, but some of them do have a few replacement pieces.

The list starts with a wooden set. That is extremely rare! I have asked several, most English, collectors/dealers and nobody did have seen it before. Most likely it is a one of a kind, maybe to practise or show some turning skills?

For these small playing sets it is even more difficult to know who the maker is. Some of the listed sets here have a makers name which was told to me by other collectors.

249 01
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  • England
  • Late 19th century
  • Wood K 5.9; p 2.6
156 02
« 1 of 4 »
  • England
  • Late 19th century
  • Bone K 6.3; p 2.5
186 02
« 1 of 5 »
  • England, by F.H.Ayres
  • Late 19th century
  • Bone K 6.7; p 2.6
187 02
« 1 of 5 »
  • England
  • Late 19th century
  • Bone K 6.6; p 2.6
undefined
« 1 of 5 »
  • England, by W.Howard?
  • Late 19th century
  • Bone K 5.6; p 2.3

"The Rose Chess" was produced and patented by The Rose Chess company of Mildred Rose in 1941. It is generally believed that it has been designed by W.B.Tattersall, London. The lead set is based on the Staunton design, although the pieces are flat, but with supports at the base for stability. According to the patent specifically designed to be small. Weight was apparently less important for this lead set. "The Rose Chess" is very common and can be found on eBay on a weekly base. Often dated to 1900-1920, which of course is wrong.

There are boxes in 3 sizes, labels in 3 variants, 2 different patent numbers, large and small sets and even a more Staunton looking variant, which is rather scarce. It is not sure the latter is of the same company, because pieces are not stamped. Just very recently a set with box appeared, but without label or other indication. The box is like the large box of The Rose Chess, but of inferior quality. You see large sets in large boxes, large and small sets in medium boxes and small sets in small boxes. The patent describes an associated board in which the pieces do fit and can be secured by turning. It is hard to believe because it would ask for a construction in the board, on each field, that makes it possible. I have never seen such associated board.

Large and medium boxes have a label stating: "THE ROSE CHESS" in bended way, "PROV. PAT.No 5280", "MADE IN ENGLAND" and "NO. 1 SET". Small boxes have a label stating: "THE ROSE" and "CHESS" in 2 straight lines and "PATENT NO 546516". Pieces are stamped with "ROSE", "MADE IN"+"ENGLAND" and "P/PAT.5280", although not always very well visible or consistent.

There is one exception, which is extremely scarce. I have seen it only once! It is a large set in the medium box with label stating, "THE" and "Rose Chess" in 2 straight lines, "( Prov. Patent 5280/41 )" and "MADE IN ENGLAND". The facts that there is "/41" at the patent and that there is no "NO. 1 SET" on the label suggest that we deal with a very early set from 1941. Also all pieces are stamped "MADE IN ENGLAND" only and omit the other stamps.

The "NO. 1 SET" could have been introduced when either the smaller set or the more Staunton alike set came out. I tend to believe the first assumption. More manufacturers numbered their sets according size. On the other hand it doesn't match with a small set in a medium box with "NO. 1 SET" on it. But they did small pieces stamped "P/PAT 5280" in a box labelled "PATENT NO 546516" as well. That isn't consistent 😉

It is also striking that the small pawns in a medium box have been stamped, unlike the pawns of sets in the small box.

Al last: The colour of the large set in the large box tends to be a bit more orange and less shining than the red/black of the others. Sometimes you see other colours, like cream with black. Boxes can have other colours as well, like green.

297 02
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This set from 1941 is the only one I have seen.

  • England, "The Rose Chess"
  • 1941
  • Lead K 6.4; p 3.0
  • Box 11.0×9.0×3.8
  • Large "Rose" model in medium sized box with:
    "Prov. Patent 5280/41"
  • All pieces stamped at bottom with just "MADE IN"+"ENGLAND" (in 1 or 2 lines)