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.

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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.

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  • England, "George Washington"
  • Late 18th century
  • Bone K 8.5; p 4.0
  • Box 16.7×11.3×7.3
  • 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.

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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.
I do not know a better description. If you do, please let me know...

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  • 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. The long thread that connects the head to the stem is also seldom seen. Normally, Knights in such sets are monoblock or connected with a pin.

It is almost certainly that the wooden set has been 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 here. A feature seldom seen in wooden "St.George" type sets.

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  • 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"
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  • 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.

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  • England, by George Merrifield
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory K 8.9; p 4.0
  • Box 22.8×10.5×6.6
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  • 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.

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  • 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 these sets as well.

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

(John) Jaques of London 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 Cooke, 198 Strand, London. John and Nathaniel were related by the marriage of John's son John (II) with Nathaniel's daughter Harriet Ingram. A lot of chess set patterns was found in Jaques 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.

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  • England, by Jaques, "Staunton" ("late Anderssen")
  • ca. 1870
  • Boxwood + ebony K 7.4; p 3.7
  • Box 16.0×11.6×6.8
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  • 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, 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 examples of all of these makers/retailers, but you can find some of them elsewhere on my site. Here a "Staunton" set of an unknown maker and a B&C "Staunton" example.

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  • England, "Staunton"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 6.5; p 3.5
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  • England, by B&C London, "Staunton"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 7.4; p 4.

F.H.Ayres. The business and factory of Frederick Henry Ayres, manufacturer, was situated at 111 Aldegate, London, from 1864. Here is a later "Staunton" example. I have several F.H.Ayres sets of different types, which you can find at other England pages.

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  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "Staunton"
  • ca. 1930
  • Catalin K 7.6; p 3.5
  • Box 18.2×13.3×6.8

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 almost certainly made by Calvert, although it is not signed and came with a box like those of Hezekiah Dixon. 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 5 sets are more common sets of unknown makers.

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  • England, by George Merrifield, "St.George" (pegged)
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory K 4.2; p 2.3
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  • 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!
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  • England, "St.George"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Boxwood + rosewood K 9.1; p 3.9
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  • England, "St.George"
  • 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 7.9; p 3.5
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  • England, "St.George"
  • 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 9.2; p 3.9
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  • England, "St.George"
  • 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 10.6; p 4.3
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  • Engeland, "St. George"
  • Early 20th century (or earlier?)
  • Boxwood K 8.5; p 3.6

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.

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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
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  • 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.

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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
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  • 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.

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  • England, "Upright"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Wood K 8.3; p 4.4
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  • 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".

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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

"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.

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  • England, by (most likely) Jaques, "Calvert"
  • ca. 1840
  • Ivory K 8.4; p 3.9

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, in my opinion, is that these sets (especially when they have no decoration) are called "Ropetwist" by many. But the latter I like to be reserved for the scarce set as you see on the "Ropetwist" page, where the central drum has a decoration simulating a twisted rope and not only have the sight of a coiled rope as in the plain Barleycorns.

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  • England, by Jaques, "Nr. 24", "Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 13.6; p 4.9
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  • England, "Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 10.0; p 4.1
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  • 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.

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  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "plain Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 12.1; p 4.5
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  • England, by F.H.Ayres, "plain Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone (repainted black) K 11.1; p 4.1
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  • England, by Jaques? "plain Barleycorn"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 9.0; p 3.4
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  • England, "plain Barleycorn"
  • ca. 1860
  • Bone K 9.3; p 3.8
  • Box 17.7×11.4×9.5

This set is a "Ropetwist" set, called after the decoration on the central drum of the King and Queen which simulates a twisted rope. Very often that name is, in my opinion mistakenly, used for ordinary "(plain) Barleycorn" sets with have a central drum looking like a coiled rope. 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 them.

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  • England, "Ropetwist"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone (or ivory?) K 9.3; p 3.4
  • Box (chinese!) 13.8×11.4×9.1

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 first 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 has been made by F.H.Ayres and 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".

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  • England, composed set
  • ca. 1830
  • Ivory K 8.2; p 3.6
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  • England, some call it "(plain) Barleycorn"
  • 1st half 19th century
  • Ivory K 12.2; p 4.4
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  • England
  • Mid 19th century
  • Ivory K 8.6; p 3.5
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  • England
  • ca. 1860
  • Ivory K 7.8; p 3.3
  • Box 19.5×12.4×7.5
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  • England
  • ca. 1870
  • Ivory K 8.7; p 3.7
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  • 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.

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  • England
  • Late 19th century
  • Wood K 5.9; p 2.6
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  • England
  • Late 19th century
  • Bone K 6.3; p 2.5
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  • England, by F.H.Ayres
  • Late 19th century
  • Bone K 6.7; p 2.6
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  • England
  • Late 19th century
  • Bone K 6.6; p 2.6
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  • 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.

There is one variant, which is extremely scarce. I bought mine 8 years ago and only now (August 2018) I saw another which I bought as well (sic). 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.

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.

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.

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This set from 1941 is one of two 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)
« 1 of 7 »

This set from 1941 is the other 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)
« 1 of 5 »
  • England, "The Rose Chess"
  • ca. 1942
  • Lead K 6.4; p 3.0
  • Box 17.8×11.7×3.6
  • Large "Rose" model in large sized box with:
    "PROV. PAT.No 5280" and "NO. 1 SET"
  • All pieces stamped at bottom with (parts of) "ROSE", "MADE IN"+"ENGLAND" (in 1 or 2 lines) and "P/PAT.5280"
« 1 of 2 »

Note that the pieces are still originally bound to their cards!

  • England, "The Rose Chess"
  • ca. 1942
  • Lead K 6.4; p 3.0
  • Box 17.8×11.7×3.6
  • Large "Rose" model in large sized box with:
    "PROV. PAT.No 5280" and "NO. 1 SET"
  • All pieces stamped at bottom with (parts of) "ROSE", "MADE IN"+"ENGLAND" (in 1 or 2 lines) and "P/PAT.5280"
« 1 of 3 »
  • England, "The Rose Chess"
  • ca. 1942
  • Lead K 5.1; p 2.8
  • Box 11.0×9.0×3.8
  • Small "Rose" model in medium sized box with:
    "PROV. PAT.No 5280" and "NO. 1 SET"
  • All pieces stamped at bottom with (parts of) "ROSE", "MADE IN ENGLAND" (in 1 line only) and "P/PAT.5280"
« 1 of 4 »

Note that the pieces are still wrapped in original paper!

  • England, "The Rose Chess"
  • ca. 1942
  • Lead K 5.1; p 2.8
  • Box 10.8×7.1×3.4
  • Small "Rose" model in small sized box with:
    "PATENT No 546516"
  • Most major pieces (pawns not) stamped at bottom with (parts of) "ROSE", "MADE IN ENGLAND" and "P/PAT.5280" !!