English makers  (England)

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

"Lund/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. Below a few pages from their famous pattern book.

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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

F.H.Ayres. The business and factory of Frederick Henry Ayres, manufacturer, was started 1864 and located at 10 Baldwin’s Place, Leather Lane, London EC by 1865, later at 71 to 75 Red Lion Street, Clerkenwell by 1869 to 1877 and finally at 111 Aldersgate Street, London, EC from 1877. It became F.H.Ayres Ltd. c1905 (known mainly for outdoor games). Later taken over by Slazenger (c1948). Here is a later "Staunton" example. I have several F.H.Ayres sets of different types, which you can find at other England pages. A rare signed travel set is on Travel (England) page.

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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

Asser & Sherwin, makers, 81 Strand, London. Grandfather Thomas Sherwin (1776-1863) was originally a bookbinder, but became a backgammon table and chess board manufacturer in about 1820. Father Thomas Sherwin (1802-1881) was also a dealer in games. Charles Sheppard Sherwin (1833-1872) formed in 1860 a partnership with his cousin James Asser (1836-1924) - 'Asser&Sherwin'. They traded until 1882 (despite the death of Charles Sherwin in 1872) at premises at 80-81 Strand and Oxford Street, selling travel goods, 'fancies', games and sporting equipment. Charles death certificate describes him as a Bagatelle Board Maker. On the closure of the company James Asser went on to found Turnbull and Asser the Jermyn Street shirtmakers. Recently (Sep. 2020) I found a lid of a box with their logo. I have only the lid and no box. Also don't know what was in the box originally.


Thomas De La Rue founded the print business in 1813. Soon the company became famous because of their playing cards, a division sold to John Waddington in 1969! In 1853 they printed the world's first surface printed stamp and in 1860 its first paper money (for Mauritius). In 1874 they opened a new factory in Bunhill Row, London. In 1881 they entered the pen market. In 1921 the De La Rue family left the business and the company became publicly owned. Today their main business is banknotes, UK Passport and software for secure data storage and analysis. On De La Rue site is a lot more of information.

Of interest to us are their Wallet sets and Stud sets. Such stud set has a clamp which can have different inscriptions: "TDLR", "TdLR" or "DLRLd". "Thomas De La Rue" or "De La Rue Limited", I think. In 1958 the company dropped Thomas in their name. Question is whether these sets could have been made after 1958 as well ? I have been told that's not the case.

De La RUE factory at Bunhill Row opened in 1874 and demolished on September 11th 1940

The name on the building is: "THOMAS DE LA RUE AND COMPANY" and it looks like that in the 2nd picture a small "Limited" has been added to that. Unfortunately the pictures are not clear enough to be sure.

De La Rue in 1921

The name here is "THOs. DE LA RUE & Co, Limited".

B&Co. The origins of B&Co. are shrouded in mystery. To this date, no one has been able to uncover any information on this company. What can be determined, based on the style of the chessmen, type style and the storage boxes produced to house them is that B&Co. started producing Staunton chessmen in the mid to late 1850s. B&Co. stampings are found on their hardware, such as their hinges. Their sets are rare.

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  • England, by B&Co. London, "Staunton"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 7.4; p 4.0

There are a lot of other makers or retailers, like Asprey, J.Barr, BCC (founded by W. Moffat and W. Hughes, making chessmen from 1891 to about 1907, well known by the use of Xylonite, a celluloid), H.Dixon, C.Hastilov, W.Howard, W.Leuchars (probably the 1st retailer of Jaques Staunton sets), 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.

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  • England, "Staunton"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood + ebony K 6.5; p 3.5

20th century makers Mildred Rose and Britain made lead sets based on the "Staunton" design. You find them on "The Rose Chess" and Britain pages. On the Plastic page more "Staunton" sets of manufacturers like Grays of Cambridge and House Martin. On the latter page is a plastic travel set by F.H.Ayres as well (see also Travel  (England)).