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

“Directoire”  (France)

France. "Directoire" is the name we use today for the sets with abstract Knights, in contrary to "Régence" sets. There is some discussion what is Knight and what is Bishop. The source of this is the "Encyclopédie" of Diderot/D'Alembert, which describes chess pieces in order of height and not according places on the board. For us, used to "Staunton" pattern, that's odd. The taller piece is the Knight ("Cavalier") and the piece with cut collar is the Bishop ("Fou"). The cut collar consist 2 oblique cuts and 2 or 3 small incisions. In old "Régence" sets you see similar bishops. However, in real live the sets were often used with swapped Knights and Bishops, I suppose.

"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 name for the sets is a bit odd, because Directoire is the name for the final four years (1795-1799) period of the French Revolution, when there was a five-member government called the Directory. However, the chess sets have been made in a much longer period.

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 of that time 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"
  • Mid to late 18th century
  • Boxwood K 8.3; p 4.5