“Directoire”  (France)

"Directoire" is the name we use today for the sets with abstract knights that, historically, can be placed between and along the "Encyclopedia" and "Régence" sets. These sets do give a lot of misunderstanding about the Knights and Bishops. The source of this is the encyclopedia of Diderot/D'Alembert where drawing and associated text don't match. It says that the taller piece is the Knight ("Cavalier") and the piece with triangular collar is the Bishop ("Fou"). But it says also that the pieces in the drawing are standing in place. Both cannot be true simultaneously, but what is wrong? Some mean that the place in the picture is wrong. However more logic to me (and others) is that the statement of "Cavalier" and "Fou" in the text is wrong, because such mistake is easier made and overlooked. Besides. there exist at least one "Encyclopedia" set with figural knight and a triangular bishop. "Directoire" sets are different! They have Bishops with cut collar, but it consist either of 2 incisions or 2 angled cuts (or both) and is not a triangle. Moreover, in old "Régence" sets you see Bishops with cut collar like in "Directoire" sets. So, in "Directoire" sets, I'm convinced that the taller piece is the Knight and the cut collar piece the Bishop. I also suppose that in real live the sets were often used with swapped Knights and Bishops indeed.

"Directoire" sets have been made from beginning of the 18th century until the end of it. Or maybe still in early 19th century. Those days it could be a cheaper alternative for the "Régence" sets, because the knights don't need to be carved. Today it is opposite, because of the rarity.

The first "Directoire" set displayed here is early to mid 18th century and does still have the original box. Only a few of these boxes survived. Not many complete sets as well.

« of 6 »
  • France, "Directoire"
  • Early to mid 18th century
  • Boxwood and rosewood K 9.1; p 5.2
  • Box 15.0×8.8×8.6
« of 4 »
  • France, "Directoire"
  • Mid to late 18th century
  • Ivory + ebony K 8.5; p 5.5
  • Box 17.4×11.4×6.2 (not pictured)
« of 3 »
  • France, "Directoire"
  • Late 18th century
  • Boxwood K 8.3; p 4.5