Europe

Austria. The 1st set, actually, has been made in Mittenwald, a small town in southern Germany, next to the border with Austria. I listed the set at Austria because of the theme of Austrians against the Turks.

The second set is a bit of mystery to me. Considering the style and presentation, I suspect it from Austria, Northern Italy or South Germany and of recent date. The pieces are marked with a three-pointed star as you can see at the base of the white rook, but I don't know what that means.

134 02
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  • Austria or Germany?
  • ca. 1960 or later?
  • Maple K 11.6; p 8.1
  • Box 32.8×20.0×7.6
128 02
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  • Austria or Italy?
  • 2000?
  • Lime K 9.9; p 7.3

Belgium. Very amusing chess set made by the Belgium artist Marilys Misotten. The set was used to open the Swift tournament at Brussels in 1987.

426 01
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  • Belgium, by Marilys Missotten
  • 1987
  • Baked clay K 6.1; p 5.1
  • Set is used to open the Swift tournament 1987 at Brussel

Czechia. These Ore Mountains sets are sold in a kind of letterbox/shelf, of which the back holds the chess board. Normally there are checker counters too. I do have only the chess pieces. See Hungary page for a set with similar rooks. On internet, at similar sets, some say these sets are Hungarian.

I have bought the 2nd set in Prague, but the pieces are made in moulds of the Irish company Prince August: PA713: Field of the Cloth of Gold: Henry VIII's side and PA714: Field of the Cloth of Gold: Francis 1st's side. The painting, which has been done very nicely, could have been done in Czechia or elsewhere.

076 02
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  • Czech, Ore mountains
  • 20th century
  • Cedar K 8.4; p 4.4
031 02
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  • Czech, Prague, Prince August moulds
  • 20th century
  • Tin K 6.2; p 5.8
  • Cassette/board 31.9×31.9×5.2

England. Unfortunately I do not know anything about Fram Cook, nor I could find here at the internet.

SAC (Studio Anne Carlton, now in Folkestone, Kent, UK) made and makes a whole lot of themed chess sets. Sets, in similar way as this Waterloo chess set, were made around 1980, but are out of production now. I know the following of this expensive series:

  • SAC-F601 Battle of the Alamo
  • SAC-F602 The American Civil War
  • SAC-F603 Waterloo
  • SAC-F604 American War of Independence
393 03
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  • England, design by Fram Cook, Scotland
  • 1986
  • Resin K 5.7; p 3.4
365 02
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  • England, by SAC, "SAC-F603, Waterloo"
  • 20th century
  • Metal K 10.7; p 7.4
  • Cassette 44.8×24.8×9.8
  • Board 41.9×41.9×1.0

France. The 1st set is a so called "Dieppe" set. This time with a Napoleon and Mamluk theme, although the white King is not Napoleon. But the pawns are.

The others are modern pewter/lead sets of some popular themes. All made by Pixi Paris.

242 01
  • France, "Dieppe"
  • Early 19th century
  • Bone K 7.3+7.0; p 5.5
048 02
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  • France, by Pixi Paris, "Collection Astérix, 1er édition"
  • 1991
  • Pewter K1 6.0; p1 4.1; K2 8.1; p2 4.5
  • Box 45.0×42.5×9.3
  • Board 39.8×39.7
324 02
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  • France, by Pixi Paris, "Collection Pixi-Mini, Astérix" (No. 499)
  • ca. 1996
  • Pewter Kw 3.1; pw 1.6; Kz 3.8; pz 1.3
  • Box 21.1×21.3×4.0
  • Board 19.9×19.9
049 02
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  • France, by Pixi Paris, "Collection Pixi-Mini, Lucky Luke"
  • 1997
  • Pewter K1 4.1; p1 1.8; K2 3.5; p2 1.3
  • Box 21.1×21.1×4.0
  • Board 19.9×19.9

Georgia. According I.M.Linder, in his book "The Art of Chess Pieces", a set from Zugdidi, Georgia, 1987. But recently I have seen such set sold as "The porcelain of Kislovodsk City", made by Kislovodsk, USSR, Russian Federation in the nineties of the 20th century. I guess that are copies from the original. My pieces could be copies too, although they are a bit different from Kislovodsk, but also from set in Linder's book.

268 01
  • Georgia, Zugdidi
  • 1987
  • Porcelain K 10.2; p 5.0

Germany. In the 19th century there were a lot of foundries that produced iron cast items. Of the ones that made chess sets deserve mentioning: Seebaß & Cie in Offenbach a/M, Albert Anton Meves in Berlin and E.G. Zimmermann in Hanau.

A beloved theme, originally by Royal Ironworks in Berlin, is "Frederick II (the great) vs. Napoleon I". Of course they were not contemporary but the Prussians wished Frederick II back to fight Napoleon. This theme has been copied by many. The royal pieces are based on designs by Carl August Kiss (Frederick II) and A.Kiss perhaps together with Wilhelm August Stilarsky (Napoleon), ca. 1820. Some sets have rooks that are all square, but normally the lower stage is round. The bishops wear Bearskin hats on the French side and the typical long helmets on the Prussian one. The first set, which is painted gold and black (at a later time I think), has bishops and queens switched from side. I guess that has occurred when it was painted. In both sets does Frederick miss his staff. The first set does have much more detail as the second. This could have been caused by the fact that moulds of the second set were used more often before this one was cast or, more likely, the casting sand used was coarser, which was generally so in later reproductions. Remarkable is that the 1st set is smaller and more detailed as the 2nd, while copies from originals are smaller because of the shrinkage of the iron (3/32 to 1/8 of an inch per foot), which also causes a loose of some detail. There must have been more moulds for these sets seen the differences in size and rooks that exist. This theme is also produced in 20st century in pewter or tin.

Another theme, originally by Zimmermann in Hanau, is "the 30 Year War", with Ferdinand II of Habsburg (grey/silver side) battling against Gustavus Adpolphus from Sweden (black side). This theme has been copied by many as well. The differences are mainly in the bases. The first set is not a Zimmermann because it is not marked as such. It could be an early copy from Seebaß, but the black rook is different from the white. Normally rooks of both sides do have the same shape in Zimmermann and Seebaß sets. So we don't know, but it looks like an original from an unknown maker. The second set of the two is probably a later copy seen the round (in stead of octagonal) bases. 20st century copies in pewter or tin exist as well.

The theme of the last set is called "The Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71". The kings are Napoleon III and the German Emperor. The rooks are modelled after the Strassbourg Cathedral. It has been produced by Albert Anton Meves Nachf. (=Nachfolger=Successor) and the king is signed "A.M.Nachf.". The sets appear in unpainted, poly-chromed and, like this one, monochrome (gold/silver and black) painted versions.

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  • Germany, "Napoleon I (Bonaparte) and Frederick II (the Great)"
  • Early 19th century (could be later replica)
  • Iron K 6.5; p 3.8
379 01
  • Germany, "Napoleon I (Bonaparte) and Frederick II (the Great)"
  • Early 19th century (probably a later replica)
  • Iron K 6.7; p 3.9
381 01
  • Germany, by unknown maker, "the 30 year war"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Iron Kg 8.1; pg 4.4; Kz 7.8; pz 4.6
243 01
  • Germany, "Zimmermann", "the 30 year war"
  • Mid 19th century (probably a later replica)
  • Iron K1 8.0; p1 4.5; K2 7.9; p2 4.6
  • This is not an original Zimmermann
152 02
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  • Germany, by Albert Anton Meves Nachf., "the Franco-Prussian war in 1870"
  • ca. 1871
  • Iron K1 8.6; p1 4.6; K2 8.2; p2 4.4

The "Silhouette" set is hard to date. Probably early 20th century.

The "folkart" set is from about 1925.

295 01
  • Germany, "Silhouette"
  • Early 20th (late 19th?) century
  • Wood K 6.9; p 4.7
225 02
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  • Germany, "folk art"
  • Early 20th century
  • Softwood K 7.2; p 4.3
  • Box/board 28.2×28.8×4.9

Some nice porcelain sets. The "frog" and the "mouse" set from Albert Stahl & Co are searched for by collectors, but are not very rare. That can not be said for the round board, which seems to fit the frog set and has the anchor mark of Bohne & Söhne, like the "frog" set. That board is not seen often, but there exist similar ones, mostly with a porcelain thimbles chess set. See the pictures of the "frog" set. The little more rare "mouse" set has the "N" mark with 5-point crown. Mixtures of one side "frog" and he other "mouse" do exist as well. To me it is unclear what the Bishops and what the Knights are in these sets. Probably I have switched them in my pictures of the "mouse" set.

The Sitzendorfer porcelain set is also beloved by collectors.

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  • Germany, by Albert Stahl & Co
    successor of Ernst Bohne & Söhne, "frog"
  • 2nd half 20th century
  • Porcelain K 6.8; p 3.6
  • Board Ø 32.0
334 01
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  • Germany, by Albert Stahl & Co
    successor of Ernst Bohne & Söhne, "mouse"
  • 2nd half 20th century
  • Porcelain K 7.0; p 3.7
  • Cassette 23.9×23.6×3.0
328 01
  • Germany, by Sitzendorfer Porzellanmanufaktur
  • ca. 1980
  • Porcelain K 8.4; p 6.5

Three very nice cut modern wooden sets, which are all unique (I mean: not series produced or only in small quantities). The 1st is very well carved and I like that the bishops of a side are mirrored. There are some subtle differences between bishops at both sides, like helmet, belt and clothing finish. Same is true for pawns. Nice rooks at white side as well.

The 2nd set is coarser cut, but does have a lot of character in the figures. It is one of my favourites.

The large 3rd set is coloured. Note that the pieces on both side do only differ in colour and base. Nice detail is that the pawns are boys and girls, 4 of each at each side.

326 02
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  • Germany, Oberammergau
  • ca. 1980
  • Wood Kw 10.0; pw 6.1; Kz 9.6; pz 6.2
  • Board 39.1×39.1×1.8
327 02
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  • Germany, Schwarzwald
  • ca. 1980
  • Wood K 12.7; p 7.7
  • Board 54.4×54.4×1.6
340 01
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  • Germany, by Herbert Holzheimer
  • ca. 2000
  • Wood K 11.7; p1 9.0; p2 8.2

This set is based on the popular cartoon by Albert Uderzo and sculpted by Stuart Harris. It could be obtained by subscription, obtaining each month a piece or a couple (main piece and pawn I believe). Whether the cassette/board was a bonus or should be ordered separately, I do not know. But I know the total became very expensive. I bought mine second hand for still quite a lot of money. Next to the Extec edition there is a Mayfair edition, which to my knowledge is exactly the same. Maybe there are more editions. That way problems with stating "limited edition" could be avoided!

058 01
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  • Germany, Extec Edition GmbH, "Astérix, Schach den Römern"
  • 1993
  • Tin K 6.6+7.1; p 4.6
  • Cassette/board 35.0×35.0×5.1

Greece. Actually I do not know much of these chess sets. The 1st set is definitively Greec.

The 2nd set however, although bought in Greece, could have been made elsewhere (by Italfama in Italy?)

The 3rd set is still for sale today. This is what is stated at the Manopoulos side about this set: This period was characterized by fierce local as well as international wars. The aggressiveness of the Pawn and the Knight fully represent the ferocity of these wars. The posture of the King and Queen indicates their unquestionable leadership. The Bishop reveals his consideration for the movements of the imminent battle. Finally, the Castle is a reproduction of a pillar which characterized the architectural style during that period.

447 01
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  • Greece
  • 1982
  • Metal K 5.4; p 2.4
461 01
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  • Greece
  • 1982
  • Metal K 4.2; p 2.9
434 01
  • Greece, Paleo Faliro, Manopoulos, "Greek-Roman" ("F11")
  • 2000
  • Brass K 9.7; p 6.1
  • Board 44.0×44.0

Hungary. This set does have commonalities with sets from the Ore Mountains as can be seen at my Czechia page. Rooks are almost identical. New insights, after visiting a shop with Ore Mountains figures, let me think that the set could have been made in that region, in spite of the fact that previous owner called it a Budapest set and similar sets are listed on internet as Hungarian. PS: picture is from internet, but set is rather similar to mine. Will make pictures of my set soon.

433 01
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  • Hungary, Budapest
  • 1977
  • Wood K 8.3; p 5.5

Italy. The first set is identified by the moulded marks on rear base of each piece, stating "DEPOSE ITALY" with the spider mark of Fontanini. In he pictures you can see it at the white Knight. Only producing 1,500 sets, these pieces are cast in the famous Fontanini cast resin. Sets of this theme with antique gold and silver finishes do exist as well.

In 1912 Josef Anton Riffeser founded the ANRI Company, which he named using the first two letters of his first and last name. Josef’s wife, Carolina Riffeser ran the company during the difficult years of war and the absence of her husband. When Anton Adolf Riffeser took over in 1945, he transformed the ANRI company, adopting a more industrial model which allowed for better quality control and distribution to new markets. He was followed by Ernst Riffeser who was able to enlist the services of many well known artists including Juan Ferràndiz, Sarah Kay and others. The ANRI company today is run by Thomas Riffeser, and still remains in the same family.

That plastic bust chess set looks as if made of wood. Maybe it is a replica of an old chess set, but it can also be a new creation.

The Alabaster set is sometimes said being from China, but that's not true as these pictures tell:

I believe that similar Italian Alabaster chess sets are still sold today.

318 01
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  • Italy, by Fontanini in Tuscane, design by Elio Simonetti, "Don Quichot theme"
  • 1960
  • Plastic (synthetic resin) K 11.9; p 8.0
435 01
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  • Italië, Valdargena, ANRI Toriart, "Charlemagne"
  • 1970
  • Sculptulite K 4.6; p 3.0
  • Cassette/board 19.5×19.5
449 01
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  • Italy
  • 1977
  • Plastic K 9.6; p 4.9
465 01
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  • Italy
  • 1986
  • Alabaster K 7.8; p 4.9

Malta. The set was bought in Malta at the Chess Olympiad 1980. There is also a large Knight of 8.5 cm that has a sticker with the logo of that Olympiad and the text: "1980 CHESS OLYMPIADS MALTA". See the pictures.

229 01
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  • Malta
  • 1980
  • Porcelain K 6.5; p 2.8

Netherlands. The 1st set is very cute, but I do not know much of it. I bought it in a recycle shop in my town. Especially I like the fact that bishops at each side are male and female and that all pawns are different. The set is one of my favourites.

The 2nd set has been made by an amateur. Large pieces in military outfits which are a bit primitively made. The pieces reside in a tailor made cabinet. There is a very nice large board that came with this set.

In 2010 the Chess Club Nuenen did invite the "Pleincollege" in Nuenen to contribute to a presentation at the cultural centre with the title "a chess match contains a the beauty of art". The school had adopted this invitation and a randomly chosen second class (2C) made a chess set: a king-size game even though, which had to be able to be played with. The dimensions of the board are not childish: size 2*2m. The pieces are made under suspicion of Marijke Smulders, an artist, and made of wood (MDF) and styrofoam, textiles and Paverpol (textile hardener). Curtain rings, ping pong balls and skewers were used too. The most important thing is, that everyone in the class used their own creative ability to contribute. The newspapers "Rond de Linde" and the ED have published about the set. Also it has stayed two days in the monastery there and the mayor did open the manifestation "KunsT met een grote T". I got this set via a connection of the Chess Club Nuenen. They had no room to store it when they got it from the school after 2 years of display there.

In 2012 Xenos shops in the Netherlands did have these chocolates from M&M with chess pieces for sale.

I got the last set at my retirement. My successor, having hobbies like photography and 3d printing, did make the set on a 3D printer using photos of all of my colleagues. He made about 20 photos from all sides for each! He all did it in secret and pictures of me were taken with an excuse. He told me that it took 12 hours to print the white King, which is representing myself! This set is truly unique and one of my favourites.

173 02
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  • unknown origin (Netherlands?)
  • Bought in a recycle shop in my town in 2005, but set is much older I think
  • Ceramic K 5.8; p 3.1
376 02
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  • Netherlands, by an amateur
  • 1970
  • Wood Kw 13.7; pw 11.0; Kb 13.5; pb 11.5
  • Cassette 35.4×33.7×19.3
  • Board 50.8×61.3×2.3
314 01
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  • Netherlands, by childen in an art project
  • 2010
  • Wood/tempex/cloth K 42.8; p 18.1
  • Board 2m×2m
348 01
  • Netherlands, by M&M
  • 2012
  • Plastic K 6.8; p 6.6
375 02
« 1 of 3 »
  • Netherlands, by Joost Velterop (3D printed)
  • 2014
  • Plastic Kw 16.5; Kb 15.0; p 5.7
  • The main figures represent colleagues at Philips
  • Board 71.9×71.5×2.2

Poland. Handpainted set from older days, showing the southern polish national dress of Zakopane or Krynica. Remarkable are the kneeling pawns.

239 02
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  • Poland, Zakopane or Krynica
  • ca. 1930
  • Poplar Kw 8.9; pw 6.4; Kz 9.2; pz 6.8
  • Box/board 38.1×19.0×5.8 (closed)

Russia. The plastic set, listed as 1st, is often said to be of Bakelite, which is not true of course. Even worse is that once it was described as noble kind of natural stone! But I don't know what kind of plastic it is. The pieces are very heavy, not only by the heavy plastic, but also by the metal parts which hold a piece together.

The 2nd plastic set is just an oddity. I do not know what the maker was thinking.

This Gzhel (or Ghzel/Gshel/Gschel/Schgel/...) porcelain chess set, with its typical blue glaze, is one of at least a dozen known different designs. That is not counting the variations we see as well. Juri Garanin did design these sets of which some bear his name. If he did all is uncertain: Gzhel is not a factory or city, it is an area in Russia with a lot of villages and several porcelain manufacturers. We see different marks on the sets. Maybe there are unmarked copies by others as well. We know small, medium and large sets with boards of about 19, 31.5 and 45 cm. The set here is medium and the design is named "Souvenir" and figures are based on stories from history with Russian and Tatar motifs. Under the board a "Gzhel" logo and number 2. What the latter means is not known to me.

359 02
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  • Russia
  • ca. 1980
  • Plastic K 11.0; p 6.7
  • Box/board 47.0×23.5×6.2
407 05
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  • Russia
  • Late 20th century
  • Plastic K 9.0; p 5.1
  • Box/Board 39.8×20.0×5.5
341 02
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  • Russia, Gzhel
  • 1986
  • Porcelain K 7.2; p 4.3
  • Board 31.8×31.3×4.1

Scotland. The "Lewis" chess men are the most documented pieces in the world. Numerous books and articles have been spent on them, but still they are a bit mysterious. Also numerous replicas have been made, in all kinds of material. This resin SAC set seems to be quite accurate, although the red colour is hardly seen at the originals. May be I should have listed this at the "To Play With" menu, but who can tell whether the original pieces were ever made to play with or for decoration only.

019 01
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  • Scotland, by SAC, "Lewis" replica
  • 1997
  • Resin K 8.9; p 4.3 (scale 0.875)
  • Box 39.0×24.3×10.7

Spain. The wooden set with Spanish motives was bought at Las Palmas in 1975. I can not say more about it.

The spooky resin chess set was bought in Barcelona in 2002. I do not know more.

452 01
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  • Spain, Las Palmas, Canary Islands
  • 1975
  • Wood K 11.0; p 8.8
478 01
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  • Spain, Barcelona
  • 2002
  • Resin K 6.7; p 2.6
  • Board pp.pxqq.q

Switzerland. Bears have a long and rather one-sided relationship enjoyed with Switzerland's capital Bern. According to a legend has Berthold V of Zähringen Bern named after the first animal that was killed at a yacht during the Foundation of the city in 1191. The 1923 Edition of Muirhead's Switzerland explains: whatever the real relationship of the word bear and Bern is, the figure of a bear appears on the oldest known city seal (1224), and by the city paid living bears are held in Bern since 1513 (except for a short period when French took them to Paris in 1798).

The very pretty 1st set came in a very nice box. Not a chess box of course. The 2nd set came in its original box with a label stating 1840 and centimes 16. Not sure how much that would be today.

The 3rd set listed is a modern wood cut chess set.

174 02
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  • Switzerland, "Bears of Bern"
  • 1st half 19th century
  • Pear K 8.5; p 5.9
  • Box 21.2×21.1×10.3
201 03
« 1 of 4 »
  • Switzerland, "Bears of Bern"
  • 1840 (box dated)
  • Pear + cherry? K 9.5; p 6.8
  • Box/board 31.4×31.5×5.6
463 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • Switzerland, Bern
  • 1982
  • Wood K 7.9; p 5.3

Turkey. Carved Turkish meerschaum products were traditionally made in manufacturing centres such as Vienna. Since the 1970s, though, Turkey has banned the exportation of meerschaum nodules, trying to set up a local meerschaum industry. The once famous manufacturers, making mostly pipes, have therefore disappeared. As of 1920, Eskişehir was one of the major locations for meerschaum mining. At that time, most of the mining sites were owned by the state.