"chess set", "chess sets", "chess pieces", "chess museum", "schaak"


Argentina. This is an interesting "Staunton" set, made for the benefit of the 1939 Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires, at that time called: "Torneo de las Naciones". The set is named "Magistral" and made of "Fenolit", which is a product of the Bakelite company Malaspina, Ferrari & Cia. The pieces have been made in moulds and seams are clearly visible. Recently (June 2021) I got evidence (on chess.com) that the "Fenolit" sets were actually used in the tournament. But shown pictures in B&W do not give 100% certainty. The pamphlet gives interesting information (see pictures).

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  • Argentina, Buenos Aires, "Magistral", "Staunton"
  • 1939
  • fenolit/bakelite K 9.4; p 5.0
  • Box 26.1×17.5×8.9
  • Made for Olympiad of Buenos Aires in 1939

Originally above set has a Fenolit box in the form of a big Rook (see last picture). However, this set came in a box of another Argentinian set, named Olimpico King, made between 2000 and 2008 approximately. Actually that set was a replica of the set made by the Campo brothers from 1978 till 1988, designed and manufactured for the occasion of the Chess Olimpics that went to Argentina in 1978. Around 2000 Campo sold the company, tools, or design to what we would call King. There was a great demand for the Olimpico chess set. The King set was 10cm, a bit larger as the Fenolit set of 1939, which explains that the box is a little oversized for my set.

The 1939 Olympiad itself was also remarkable. During the tournament the WWII started and a lot of players did not return to their homeland, like for instance Najdorf. There was a controversial outcome because not all matches were played and got a fixed result. England did withdraw.

Argentina. This wooden set is an abstract set made in a series of 100 in favour of Unicef. The set here is set No. 6. This abstract set may not be meant that much to play with, but more as decorative set. Maybe I will move it to the To Look At pages some day. These sets were sold at the 1978 Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires.

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  • Argentina
  • 1978
  • Wood K 11.4; p 5.8
  • Design by Demetrio Karavokiris, Campana, Argentina
  • Modelo Funcional Linea Geometrica, for Unicef, no. 6 of 100 numbered sets

Canada. This is an abstract aluminium set purchased during the Olympiad of Haifa in 1976. The set served as shop window material in a photo shop. It was owned by an Israeli aircraft captain, who was responsible for the purchase of aircraft. It was said that it was a promotional gift of a Canadian aircraft manufacturer. This set has similarities with the well known set by Austin Enterprises 1962 chess set, austin_enterprise_1962but our set could be one of a kind.

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  • Canada, Montreal
  • 1976
  • Aluminium K 12.1; p 7.6

Colombia. This is a charming, primitive-made and interesting "Staunton inspired" set made of horn.

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  • Colombia, "Staunton based"
  • 1970
  • Horn K 9.2; p 3.9

Cuba. This Staunton inspired set was a gift.

  • Cuba, "Staunton"
  • 2003
  • Pritaria K 5.6; p 2.1
  • Mahogany box 18.0×17.8×4.9

Mexico. The "Pulpit" sets from Mexico are rather common. Here are 3 examples of the "Classic Pulpit" style. The 1st from an chess auction at Bonhams, the 2nd from eBay and the 3rd from a fellow collector. They are composed of several pieces, often connected with a wooden pin. Mostly they are in bone, but 100% wooden sets are also known. The bone sets are almost always white and black, white and red or all white with one side having black bases. Actually the 1st set here did have red pieces once.There exist also a variation with faces.

I do have difficulties with the dating of the sets. The Bonham's set was dated 1920, as was the set from eBay. I have seen one dated in the 60ies. The 3rd set here was originally bought in 1996 in Tijuana, Mexico, at the workshop were the sets were being made. I do not believe that the production of these very similar sets goes that far, 1920, back in history. Another indication is the huge amount of sets that are offered. So, without actually proof, I do believe the sets were produced somewhere in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

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  • Mexico, "Pulpit"
  • 1920 said, but I think 2nd half 20th century
  • Bone K 11.4; p 5.1
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  • Mexico, "Pulpit"
  • 1920 said, but I think 2nd half 20th century
  • Bone K 11.9; p 5.0
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  • Mexico, Tijuana, "Pulpit"
  • 1996
  • Bone K 11.0; p 4,9

Mexico. These Onyx "Aztec" chess sets are very common and appear in several sizes and colours. Normally there is a matching board, but not this time. There is a stone board with unknown origin, which fits the 2nd set here very well, so I made the marriage.

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  • Mexico, Guadalajara, "Aztec"
  • 1975
  • Onyx K 8.7; p 3.7
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  • Mexico, Guadalajara, "Aztec"
  • 1975
  • Onyx K 9.5; p 5.0
  • Board 33.3x33.3x2.1

Mexico. Simple set of the "Tarascan" cut - so called because made principally by Tarascan Indians in central Mexico. These sets are assembled from turned wooden bases, and bone toppings.

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  • Mexico, "Tarascan"
  • 1960-1980
  • Wood with bone K 8.0; p 4.1

Mexico. The "Upright", or "Bone Upright" sets are another well known Mexican type. They are made of wood with bone decorations, similar as the "Tarascan" types, which permits to speculate that all wood/bone sets might be made in the same workshops, in the Tarascan area or beyond. That may be true for the "Pulpit" sets as well, as the Knights are very similar.

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  • Mexico, "Upright" & "Tarascan"
  • 1985
  • Wood with bone K 15.2; p 8.1

USA. These bone sets are almost always found in USA, but it is not 100% sure they have been made there, because maker is unknown. Sometimes they are confused with German Uhlig sets of which they have some characteristics. It is said that descendants of Uhlig had moved to USA and made these sets.

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  • USA, "Staunton"
  • ca. 1920
  • Bone K 5.1; p 2.7

USA. Plastic sets from USA made by Drueke and Gallant Knight are very common. In spite of that they are interesting enough to list them here.

Patent D128794, issued by William F. Drueke in 1941 for chessmen.
I have seen these Drueke sets, in different boxes, with numbers 23B and 24. Our set came in a box from H.Baron Company, New York, together with the white and red Gallant Knight set in a similar box.
Unfortunately, I could not find any information on the H.Baron Company.

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  • USA, by Drueke, "Staunton"
  • 1941
  • Plastic K 5.9; p 3.3
  • Box (not original) 23.2×18.3×3.9
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  • USA, by Gallant Knight, "Staunton"
  • 1946
  • Plastic K 7.0; p 3.6
  • Box (not original) 23.2×18.3×3.9
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  • USA, by Gallant Knight, "Staunton"
  • 1946
  • Plastic K 7.0; p 3.6
  • Original box 26.0×13.6×5.4

USA. Small travel chess set from USA. But I have to say that I'm not sure about that origin...

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  • USA
  • Mid 20th century
  • Plastic K 1.0; p 1.0
  • Box 17.0×11.6×2.3
  • Board 10.2×10.3