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

Germany

Germany. The "Selenus" sets, typical of Germany and Northern Europe, are named after Gustavus Selenus, the pen name of Augustus the Younger, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, author of "Das Schach- oder Königsspiel" ("Chess or the King's Game"), an important chess manual of the early 17th century (1616).

The engraving in that book, showing chess pieces after which the "Selenus" type is named. This type was made a long period and the form has been evolved, but pieces very similar as in the book are made for centuries, as the ca. 1800 Danish and Swedish sets show.

The standard includes delicate lathe turned bases and shafts and tiers with galleries resembling crowns. Pieces were distinguished by heights, the number of tiers and sometimes by symbols. In England they were frequently called "Tulip" chess sets, because of the shape of the middle sections of the King and Queen.

The pieces are very fragile and easily damaged. The sets are very common, but complete and undamaged sets are scarce. You will notice that some sets listed here are rather damaged. There are 12 typical "Selenus" sets listed here, followed by some others which are disputable "Selenus" sets.

It is difficult to date these sets accurately. They have been made a long period and the shape didn't change that much. My theory, but not proven, is that in older sets the King has only one gallery, the galleries are not pierced, King and Queen do not have the feather finial, or only the King has a feather, bishops have not a flower like top and knights and bishops lack the larger and dcorated disc in the stem. Of course not all of these aspects act always together.

The 5th set, the brownish one, does have Kings with 1 pierced gallery, but I think they originally had 2 galleries. Also the white Knights do miss their collar.

The ivory "Selenus" set of the late 19th century is scarce because almost all "Selenus" sets have been made of bone. That set is a bit unusual of form as well. This set and box is very similar to a signed set made by J.G.Gärtner in the late 19th century.

The set estimated early 20th (late 19th?) century is an exception, because it has the old characteristics, except for fragility. Actually I think it is a later reintroduction of an old set. There exist also new Indian reproductions of the "Selenus" type set, which are easily recognizable because they are uncouth and miss the elegance of the antique sets. Unfortunately I do not have an example of it.

These sets came mostly in a small pine box with a sideway sliding lid. I did not make pictures of the boxes always. Set no. 8 is interesting because it comes with associated roll-board and chess box. We have seen such combinations with a "Nuremberg" set as well. Note that the ivory "Selenus" set came in a carton box with compartments for the pieces.

« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • 18th century
  • Bone K 7.5; p 4.0
« of 2 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • 18th century
  • Bone + horn? K 10.0; p 3.8
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • 1800?
  • Bone K 8.6; p 3.3
  • Box 11.8×8.3×6.4
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early 19th century
  • Bone K 10.7; p 3.6
  • Box 12.6×9.1×6.6
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early to mid 19th century
  • Bone K 10.4; p 5.1

In this set Kings lack a gallery and white Knights a collar

« of 2 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early to mid 19th century
  • Bone K 11.4; p 4.6
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early to mid 19th century
  • Bone K 11.1; p 4.1
« of 9 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early to mid 19th century
  • Bone K 11.7; p 4.1
  • Box 29.1×13.5×7.9
  • Board 25.4×25.5
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early to mid 19th century
  • Bone K 10.5-10.7; p (4.1)4.4-4.6
« of 4 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early to mid 19th century
  • Bone K 10.0; p 3.7
« of 12 »
  • Germany, by J.G.Gärtner? "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Late 19th century
  • Ivory K 7.1; p 3.3
  • Cassette 23.5×21.6×3.3
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" (Eng: "Tulip")
  • Early 20th (late 19th?) century
  • Bone (or Ivory?) K 8.6; p 3.2
  • Box 20.9×13.2×6.2
  • Board 31.6×31.6

Germany. This lead or pewter set is more a curiosity. I'm not sure that it counts as a "Selenus" type set.

« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Selenus inspired"
  • Early 20th century?
  • Lead or pewter K 7.8; p 4.3

Germany. These 2 bone sets, sets without galleries, are a “Selenus” type according Strouhal, but "Nuremberg" is used too, because the type appears on a Nuremberg pattern sheet of 1840/1850. This type is, in the English world, sometimes called "Spindle" set. Another example is found at the 19th century (Netherlands) page. The 1st set is missing 5,5 pieces! Maybe some replacements too!?

« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" or "Nuremberg" (Eng: "Spindle")
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 7.3; p 3.0
« of 4 »
  • Germany, "Selenus" or "Nuremberg" (Eng: "Spindle")
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 7.5; p 2.4
  • Box 10.5×7.7×5.4

Germany. At last a wooden set which is hard to categorize. Although it was said Polish, probably because of the indication on the box, I believe it is a German set with characteristics influenced by both "Selenus" and "Toy" sets. I think it has been made in same region, and probably by the same makers, as the "Toy" sets, which came in shaker boxes as well.

« of 4 »
  • Germany, Ore Mountains, "Selenus inspired"
  • 18th-19th century
  • Fruitwood K 10.5; p 5.4
  • Shaker box 18.4×10.9×6.4

Germany. "Toy" sets are named so, because these sets appeared in the German toy catalogues of the mid to late 19th century like "Das Sonneberger Spielzeugmusterbuch (von 1831)". These sets are most likely made in the Ore Mountains. But we have seen them also in Nuremberg pattern sheets from the mid-19th century.

Specific on those sets is that there are some figural aspects. You always see small faces and mostly hair and hoods and so on the pieces. In spite of being somewhat figural, are these sets well suited to play with. Those sets came in shaker boxes as far as I know, but those boxes have been lost very often. I do not have a "Toy" set with its shaker box.

Knowing this, then this list of sets starts with a set without the typical "Toy" characteristics, as no faces are drawn on the pieces. However, the whole set is just in line with the "Toy" sets. Since a post in march 2023 I did a closer look at the 4th set and now I'm not 100% convinced that the faces there are original, so I wonder if we can call it a "Toy" set.

« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Toy alike"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Fruitwood K 7.7; p 3.7
  • Box/Board 29.7×14.6×5.4
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Toy"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Fruitwood K 9.6; p 5.2
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Toy"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Fruitwood K 9.1; p 4.7
  • Board 41.3×41.3
  • Germany, "Toy"?
  • Mid to late 19th century
  • Fruitwood K 8.9; p 3.1

"Nuremberg", and Augsburg as well, were in the 19th century centers for toy makers. They made also chess sets. In Nuremberg pattern sheets from the mid-19th century you see this type of chess sets. Also Selenus type, including the narrow Spindle ones, and the "Toy" sets are found in those pattern sheets. The sets are often mistakenly seen as a "Barleycorn" set, because of the similar overall form. See "Barleycorn" (England) page.

Pieces of Nuremberg sets are very fragile, like the "Selenus" sets, and easily damaged, especially the bone ones. The sets are very common, except for some variations and large sizes, but complete and undamaged sets are scarce. You will notice that some sets listed here are rather damaged.

Here you see 3 groups: 7 bone sets in different, less common, variations, 7 common wooden sets and 5 common bone sets. Note that in spite of the numbers here that common wooden sets are less common than common bone sets. These sets often make part of a compendium, such as the 2 last ones, or are accompanied by a roll-board that together with the pieces fit in a coffin. I do not have a "Nuremberg" set with board in a coffin, but I have such combination with a "Selenus" set.

Germany. Group of 7 bone sets in less common Nuremberg variations. Sometimes the sets are confused with English Barleycorn sets. Some Nuremberg sets are decorated with leaves (none listed on the site) and easily confused, unless the set has faces. The 2nd set, the one with open worked barrels, has better knights as average and is also a bit large for this type. The 3rd set in this group is exceptional large for the type. The flags are exceptional as well. The 4th set, unfortunately, misses a white Knight and Rook. The 5th to 7th set in this group, where King/Queen have no lower stem, is also a less common variation of which some say that it is Dutch. That's also said of the type of Knights on those sets, but I think it is just a later production. Maybe 20th century. The 7th set is exceptionally large and has flags which is very uncommon for this specific type of "Nuremberg" sets as well. The felts it has are most likely added at a later time. It was dated 1920, but I think the set is earlier. Could be late 19th century.

Note that pictures of 6th set are very yellow-->I have to redo those.

« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 10.9; p 3.7
« of 4 »
  • Germany, "open Nuremberg"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 11.3; p 3.9
  • Box/board 31.2×15.6×5.7
  • The knights in this set are better than average
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "large Nuremberg"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 12.6; p 4.1
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 9.6; p 3.2
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • Mid to late 19th century
  • Bone K 9.3; p 3.5
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • Mid to late 19th century
  • Bone K 8.2; p 3.3
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "large Nuremberg"
  • ca. 1920?
  • Bone K 12.4; p 4.5
  • Box 23.3x14.8x10.8

Germany. 7 common wooden Nuremberg sets. These wooden sets are not confused with English Barleycorn sets, because the latter hardly exist in wood. The first wooden set is extremely rare, because of the size and the box that was said being original. That box has not a side-way sliding lid as (smaller) Nuremberg sets have, but maybe such box is not suitable for such very large set. I bought this very large set on an auction and the set was listed in the catalogue as made from arbutus wood, but I do doubt that strongly. I believe these wooden sets were made of Maple and Cocobolo, but I am not 100% sure of these woods.

The second wooden set, although smaller, is rare as well because of its size. It is a very pretty size to play with. This set has its original, side-way sliding, box.

The wooden set with the black pieces is odd. I found it intriguing, as these sets are never black. Most likely this set has been painted over some day. That's inclusive the white pieces. Not sure when that's done. The set has still its original, side-way sliding, box.

« of 8 »
  • Germany, "large Nuremberg"
  • 2nd half 19th century
  • Maple? + cocobolo? K 12.4; p 4.5
  • Original? box 21.6×12.6×7.4
« of 6 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • 2nd half 19th century
  • Maple? + cocobolo? K 10.0; p 3.5
  • Box 14.8×11.3×7.5
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • 2nd half 19th century
  • Wood K 8.5; p 3.1
« of 5 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • 2nd half 19th century
  • Maple? + cocobolo? K 7.7; p3.0
  • Box/board 26.4×13.1×5.7
« of 6 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • 2nd half 19th century
  • Maple? K 7.1; p 2.6
  • Box 13.1×9.9×7.4
« of 2 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • 2nd half 19th century
  • Maple? + cocobolo? K 7.0; p 2.2
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • 2nd half 19th century
  • Maple? + cocobolo? K 5.8; p 2.4

Germany. 5 common bone Nuremberg sets. Especially the sets in this last group are often confused with the English Barleycorn sets. That mistake is very persistent and enters even the best books on chess sets. Another example of the type of sets listed here is found at the 19th century (Netherlands) page.

Unfortunately the 3rd set misses a white rook.

The sets 4 and 5 are compendiums. The last one was dated 1930. That could have been based on the Bakelite? discs in it, but I think those were not original. In that case they would have made a better fix in the box. Actually I think the set is much earlier. Could be late 19th century.

« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 7.1+7.4; p 2.6
  • Box 11.8×8.3×6.5
  • Board 31.3×30.3
« of 4 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • Mid 19th century
  • Bone K 9.5; p 4.4
« of 6 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg"
  • Mid to late 19th century
  • Bone K 8.3; p 2.7
« of 9 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg" compendium
  • Mid to late 19th century
  • Bone K 7.6; p 2.7
  • Box with heraldic decoration 27.7×17.6×11.5
  • Board 24.5×24.5
« of 4 »
  • Germany, "Nuremberg" compendium
  • ca. 1930?
  • Bone K 8.1; p 2.7
  • Box 28.8×21.9×14.0
  • Board 26.0×25.3
  • Bakelite? discs Ø 2.8; h 0.4li>
  • Bone/ebony dominoes 4.1×2.0×1.0

"Régence" sets of Germany are, just like the French, hard to date. However, the history of the German "Régence" sets does not go that far back as the French. I believe mid to late 19th century are the oldest. Often it is even hard to tell the origin, so I'm not sure they are all German here. Don't hesitate to leave a message if you see something that's incorrect!

Germany. This "Régence alike" set has been bought in Vienna and could be Austrian as well. Not sure of age, but could be 19th century or early 20th century? Unfortunately it misses 2 pawns and has some damage at the crowns.

« of 3 »
  • Germany or Austria, "Régence alike"
  • 19th century?
  • Maple? K 9.7; p 4.5

Germany. This "Régence" set could be French. I have to say that I'm not 100% sure of age as well. I have put it in a mid 19th century German box which could once have contained a somewhat large Nuremberg set. I do not know in what box this Régence set had been sold originally.

« of 6 »
  • Germany or France?, "Régence"
  • 19th century
  • Bone K 8.4; p 4.1
  • Box (not original) 18.0×11.4×12.0

Germany. The next 6 "Régence" sets listed could be French, from Sudetenland or Polish, but I have listed the sets here because of what I think is most likely. They all are, I think, 20th century and German. I have put a '?' when not sure. Maybe the 1st is French. The set with indication Sudetenland? may be much older (based on comparison with the Sudetenland set at Czechia (Other European) page). The set with indication Oberlausitz, came together with the "Coffeehouse" set in the same sideway sliding box. Like that "Coffeehouse" set it can be Polish, few km from Oberlausitz.

All 6 are cheap sets. No real value for the true collector, but just informative. Except 1st and 2nd are they rather small and not very suitable for normal play. Maybe they are intended as travel sets, but then I mis the boards. Could have been part of games compendium as well.

« of 3 »
  • Germany or France?, "Régence"
  • Early 20th century
  • Wood K 9.1; p 4.5
  • Bought in England
« of 4 »
  • Germany?, "Régence"
  • Early to mid 20th century
  • Wood K 7.5; p 3.5
  • Box/board was part of the deal!
« of 5 »
  • Germany?, "Régence"
  • Early to mid 20th century
  • Wood K 6.0; p 3.2
  • Box/board 20.0×10.4×5.5
« of 3 »
  • Germany? or Sudetenland?, "Régence"
  • ca. 1960 or older?
  • Wood K 6.3; p 3.1
« of 2 »
  • Germany, Oberlausitz, "Régence"
  • 1960
  • Abachi K 5.1; p 2.2
« of 3 »
  • Germany, "Régence"
  • 1970
  • Boxwood K 6.0; p 3.1

Germany. "Coffeehouse" sets of Germany are less common as the Vienna ones. There were several makers in the Ore Mountains like Uhlig and Wittig. The first set listed here is a real beauty and probably made by either one of those makers, as is told to me. On the other hand it is very similar to Austrian sets, apart from the way the pieces are felted and finished. The box could be original I think, because it fits the set very well. But I'm not 100% sure, as others could not tell me.

The "Coffeehouse" set from Oberlausitz came together with the "Régence" set in the same sideway sliding box. Like that "Régence" set it can be Polish, a few km from Oberlausitz.

Set 3 is a wartimes poverty set, always sold as glass. I have seen them in war boxes for he war front. I call this rather common set "Coffeehouse inspired", but is that designed so!?

« of 6 »
  • Germany, Ore Mountains, maybe by Uhlig or Wittig, "coffeehouse"
  • ca. 1930
  • Wood K 9.9; p 4.7
  • Box 24.8×13.6×7.7
« of 3 »
  • Germany, Oberlausitz, "coffeehouse"
  • ca. 1925
  • Maple K 6.6; p 3.0
  • Box 19.2×12.4×6.4