“Régence”  (France)

"Régence" sets are called after "Café de la Régence", a famous chess café in Paris from 18th century till 1910 when it became a restaurant. In the café they used this type of set. Main difference with "Directoire" sets is the figural Knight.

The "Régence" sets have been produced from 2nd quarter 18th century till even today. It was the most widely used pattern, certainly at the continent, as standard before the "Staunton" sets took over. In 1924 the FIDE declared "Staunton" as standard for their tournaments as well, after which the "Régence" style was used less and less.

It is not easy to date the sets accurately, because of their long production period in both France and its colonies as well as in other countries by many manufacturers. Generally spoken, the sets evolved from tender fragile pieces to thicker ones. This applies to all aspects like the stems and finials. Knights heads became less tall and Rooks more straight. Bishops did not change that much further, although they lost their cuts at the collar in due time. Pawns evolved from having a very small, or even almost absent, collar to wider ones and to an extra small collar in the stem, as we see in 20th century sets.

Most of the Régence sets have been made of boxwood, only occasionally combined with either ebony or rosewood. Ivory and bone sets are known as well. Ivory sets can be very beautiful. The one listed here is one of my favorites, and I do consider it the finest set I do have in my collection.

The pewter set has turned pieces and handcarved knights. You can see the turning marks on the pieces. The set was bought in England, but the shape is almost identical to the French Régence sets of late 19th till early 20th century. I must assume it is French.

The 2 late 19th or ealy 20th century wooden sets are very common and were in use in chess clubs as well. Sometimes I do see a set where the bottoms have a number. Chess clubs did that trying to keep sets together. That didn't work always, as sets with different numbers on the bottom proof. You see this mixture also at Staunton chess sets used in clubs, even at Jaques sets.

The last 3 sets are early 20th century sets. The Galalith "Régence" set is hard to find complete with cassette and board. That board is the only one I have seen! Some pieces are glued, but that does not distract from the beauty of this set, which is one of my favorites. At time of production these sets must have been expensive. The material was quite new and trendy and the pieces all had to be made by hand. Especially the knights are beatifully carved! No wonder you don't see much of these.

213 02
« 1 of 7 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Mid 18th century
  • Boxwood K 8.3; p 4.8
  • Box 19.3×12.9×7.1
488 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Mid to late 18th century
  • Boxwood K 8.5; p 4.3
293 01
« 1 of 5 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • 18th-19th century
  • Boxwood K 6.8; p 4.1
  • Original? box 16.3×10.3×5.8
344 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Early 19th century
  • Wood K 8.5; p 4.4
038 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory K 8.9; p 4.9
  • Box 22.3×12.5×6.5
238 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Boxwood K 9.8; p 6.2
  • Box 21.5×15.2×11.9
  • From The Martine Jeannin Gallery
040 02
« 1 of 2 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood K 10.5; p 5.9
205 02
« 1 of 10 »
  • France or England? "Régence"
  • Late 19th century
  • Pewter or other heavy metal K 6.8; p 3.9
  • Tin box 10.9×15.4×3.9
  • The set is bought in England, so maybe made in England?
245 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Late 19th or early 20th century
  • Boxwood K 9.1; p 4.5
310 01
« 1 of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Late 19th or early 20th century
  • Boxwood K 8.4; p 4.3
437 01
« 1 of 5 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • ca. 1900-1910
  • Boxwood K 7.8; p 4.2
339 03
« 1 of 10 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • ca. 1920
  • Galalith K 7.7; p 4.3
  • Cassette 32.0×32.0×5.2
  • Board 29.6×29.6
039 03
« 1 of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • ca. 1930
  • Boxwood K 8.7; p 4.6
  • Original box 19.1×10.8×7.5