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

Germany  (Europe)

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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: Royal Ironworks in Berlin, E.G. Zimmermann in Hanau, Seebaß & Cie in Offenbach a/M and Albert Anton Meves in Berlin.

Sets 1 & 2 have a beloved theme, originally by Royal Ironworks in Berlin: "Frederick II (the great) vs. Napoleon I". Of course these persons 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. There exist sets that 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 1st 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 1st set does have much more detail as the 2nd. This could have been caused by the fact that moulds of the 2nd 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 shape of rooks that exist. This theme is also produced in 20st century in pewter or tin.

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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
  • Germany, "Napoleon I (Bonaparte) and Frederick II (the Great)"
  • Early 19th century (probably a later replica)
  • Iron K 6.7; p 3.9

Germany. Sets 3 & 4 have another well-known theme, originally by Zimmermann in Hanau: "the 30 Year War", with Ferdinand II of Habsburg (grey/silver side) battling against Gustavus Adolphus from Sweden (black side). This theme has been copied by many as well. The differences are mainly in the bases. The 1st 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 2nd 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.

  • Germany, by unknown maker, "the 30 year war"
  • Early 19th century
  • Iron Kg 8.1; pg 4.4; Kz 7.8; pz 4.6
  • Germany, "the 30 year war"
  • Early 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

Germany. The theme of the 5th 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, 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

Germany. This "Silhouette" set is hard to date. Probably early 20th century. I think it has been made by an amateur. I do not think that such sets were made as a common folk art or in workshops. I always thought that I could easily make the 2 missing pieces, but up to today it didn't happen.

  • Germany, "Silhouette"
  • Early 20th (late 19th?) century
  • Wood K 6.9; p 4.7

Germany. This "folkart" set is from about 1925. Pieces and board belong to each other.

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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

Germany. The factory at Fürstenberg was founded in 1747 under the Duke of Brunschwick ("Braunschweig") but no porcelain was made until 1753. The biscuit porcelain pieces are taken from the original 18th century moulds to commemorate the bi-centenary of the Fürstenberg factory. All pieces marked under the base with blue F-mark. The king as "Herzog Karl I von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel", the queen as his consort "Phillipine Charlotte von Preußen", bishops as "Johann Georg von Langen" (who did let start the porcelain production), knights as horses heads, rooks as turrets and pawns as peasant boys. A glass board fits with all pieces in a leatherette cassette. A rare and most decorative set.


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  • Germany, Fürstenberg
  • 1947
  • Biscuit porcelain K 9.3; p 5.8
  • Board 39.9×39.8×0.8
  • Cassette 44.4×44.2×8.7

Germany. Some nice porcelain sets. The "frog" and the "mouse" set from Albert Stahl & Co, Rudolstadt,  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 the only one I have seen, although I have seen 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, but I'm not sure about the originality of that. Of course are colour variations that I have seen original. 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. By the way: although named "the mouse set", do the animals look more like rats to me.

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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
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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

Germany. This Sitzendorfer porcelain set is also beloved by collectors.

  • Germany, by Sitzendorfer Porzellanmanufaktur
  • ca. 1980
  • Porcelain K 8.4; p 6.5

Germany, Munich. A baked clay chess set made in memory of the lost war of 1866 against Prussia. One side in light blue Bavarian uniforms, the other in dark blue Prussian uniforms. Representing Bavaria's fairytale King Ludwig II with empress Sissi, Richard Wagner and Munich Frauenkirche (rook) against king of Prussia Wilhelm I with Otto Bismarck (rook).  The hand painted figures have been designed by cartoonist Josef Blaumeiser.

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  • Germany, Munich, by Josef Blaumeiser, "In memoriam 1866, Die bayrische Revanche auf dem Schachbrett"
  • ca. 1986
  • Baked clay K 8.7; p 6.5
  • Cassette 47.0×47.0×h.h
  • Board 47.0×47.0

Germany. Well known type of chess set made in Ore Mountains.

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  • Germany, Ore mountains
  • 2nd half 20th century
  • Wood K 9.0; p 7.3
  • Cassette 62.5×23.8×5.5
  • Box 63.9×25.4×5.8

Germany. Three very nice cut modern carved wood 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.

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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

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

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  • Germany, Schwarzwald
  • ca. 1980
  • Wood K 12.7; p 7.7
  • Board 54.4×54.4×1.6

Germany. The large 3rd carved wood 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.

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  • Germany, by Herbert Holzheimer
  • ca. 2000
  • Wood K 11.7; p1 9.0; p2 8.2

Germany. This tin 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!

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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