“Régence”  (France)

France. "Régence" sets are called after "Café de la Régence", a famous chess café in Paris from 1718 till 1910 when it became a restaurant. In the café they used this type of set. Main difference with "Directoire" sets is the figural Knight. Note that Keats and some others call these sets "St.George".

The "Régence" sets have been produced from about 2nd quarter 18th century till even today. It was the most widely used pattern, certainly at the continent, as standard before the "Staunton" sets took over. In 1924 the FIDE declared "Staunton" as standard for their tournaments as well, after which the "Régence" style was used less and less.

It is not easy to date the sets accurately, because of their long production period in both France and its colonies as well as in other countries by many manufacturers. Generally spoken, the sets evolved from tender fragile pieces to thicker ones. This applies to all aspects like the stems and finials. Bishops did not change that much further, although they lost their cuts at the collar in due time. Knights heads became less tall. Rooks became more straight, including a 20th century variant without separate base. Pawns evolved from having a very small, or even almost absent, collar to wider ones and to an extra small collar in the stem, as we see in 20th century sets.

Most of the Régence sets have been made of boxwood, only occasionally combined with either ebony or rosewood. Ivory and bone sets are known as well. Ivory sets can be very beautiful. The one listed here is one of my favourites, and I do consider it the finest set I do have in my collection.

The pewter set has turned pieces and hand-carved knights. You can see the turning marks on the pieces. The set was bought in England, but the shape is almost identical to the French Régence sets of late 19th till early 20th century. I must assume it is French.

The 2 late 19th or early 20th century wooden sets are very common and were in use at home and in chess clubs as well. The set of the Dutch chess player does have better knights than average. Sometimes I do see a set where the bottoms have a number. Chess clubs did that trying to keep sets together. That didn't work always, as sets with different numbers on the bottom proof. You see this mixture also at Staunton chess sets used in clubs, even at Jaques sets.

The last 4 sets are early 20th century sets. I have put the large wooden set (1st of the 4) in a box that's made as in early to mid 18th century, but the box looks not that old and I'm not sure about the nails. Interesting is the small label of which one part is unreadable to me, but below that says 22f, which is 22 Franc I believe. As we don't know what was in the box originally, we still have no periodic price indication of this particular Régence set. The Galalith "Régence" set is hard to find complete with cassette and board. That board is the only one I have seen! Some pieces are glued, but that does not distract from the beauty of this set, which is one of my favourites. At time of production these sets must have been expensive. The material was quite new and trendy and the pieces all had to be made by hand. Especially the knights are beautifully carved! No wonder you don't see much of these.

« of 7 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Mid to late 18th century
  • Boxwood K 8.3; p 4.8
  • Box 19.3×12.9×7.1
« of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Mid to late 18th century
  • Boxwood K 8.5; p 4.3
« of 5 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • 18th-19th century
  • Boxwood K 6.8; p 4.1
  • Original? box 16.3×10.3×5.8
« of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Early 19th century
  • Wood K 8.5; p 4.4
« of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Early 19th century
  • Ivory K 8.9; p 4.9
  • Box 22.3×12.5×6.5
« of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Boxwood K 9.8; p 6.2
  • Box 21.5×15.2×11.9
  • From The Martine Jeannin Gallery, 13, rue Jacob, Paris
« of 2 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • Late 19th century
  • Boxwood K 10.5; p 5.9
« of 10 »
  • France or England? "Régence"
  • Late 19th century
  • Some heavy metal K 6.8; p 3.9
  • Tin box 10.9×15.4×3.9
  • The set is bought in England, so maybe made in England?
  • Turned pieces with hand carved knights.
522 01
« of 3 »
  • France or Netherlands, "Régence"
  • Late 19th or early 20th century
  • Boxwood K 9.1; p 4.5
  • Belonged to Dutch chess player
« of 3 »
  • France?, "Régence"
  • Late 19th or early 20th century
  • Boxwood K 8.4; p 4.3
« of 8 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • ca. 1910-1920
  • Boxwood K 9.0; p 5.0
  • Box (not original) 15.9×13.0×9.7
« of 5 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • ca. 1910-1920
  • Boxwood K 7.8; p 4.2
« of 10 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • ca. 1920
  • Galalith K 7.7; p 4.3
  • Cassette 32.0×32.0×5.2
  • Board 29.6×29.6
« of 3 »
  • France, "Régence"
  • ca. 1930
  • Boxwood K 8.7; p 4.6
  • Original box 19.1×10.8×7.5