Belgium. This "Staunton" set was bought in Anvers. Of course this does not mean that the set must have been made in Belgium. In fact I don't know, as I don't know the exact age. Maybe older as indicated.
- Belgium, Anvers
- Mid 20th century
- Boxwood K 7.4; p 3.6
- Box 16.8×11.3×7.0
Czechia. These Czech or Czechoslovakian sets have different designs and origin. The first set has similarities with "Selenus" sets and is from Sudetenland.
- Czech, Sudetenland
- ca. 1900
- Wood K 10.0; p 5.0
Czechia. The second set is a typical "Coffeehouse" set, not from Vienna this time, but from Fidet, a Czech company.
- Czech, by Fidet, "coffeehouse"
- ca. 1900-1910
- Maple K 7.7; p 3.7
- Box 18.7×13.7×5.1
Czechia. These 2 sets are called "Czech design", "Czech Tournament", "Czech Club set", or better "Česká Kublovka". The original design was by famous Czech sculptor Bohuslav Schnirch at the end of 19th century. These sets were made throughout the whole 20th century up to the present day.
- Czech, by Fidet?, "Česká Kublovka", design by Bohuslav Schnirch
- Early 20th century
- Maple K 10.2; p 4.8
- Box/board 36.3×36.0×6.7
- Czech, "Česká Kublovka", design by Bohuslav Schnirch
- Maple K 10.7; p 6.2
- Knights with plastic heads
The 1st set, having full wooden knights, was made in Czech before it was part of Eastern bloc under Soviet Union. The knight here is almost equal to the knight of the Fidet "Coffeehouse" set, an indication that Fidet could have made that set. November 2019 I saw a picture of Luděk Pachman at the 1963 Czech Championship where they used such a set. The 2nd set is a No. IV (about 11cm King) with plastic knight heads, made during the 1980ies. Full plastic sets do exist as well.
Denmark. Danish sets from around 1800 are delicate. The 1st set is a nice example of an early Danish "Selenus" set. Very often you see finials in opposite colours, but not in this set. Provenance: Thomas Thomsen collection.
- Denmark, "Selenus"
- ca. 1800
- Bone K 6.2; p 3.6
- Box 41.3×12.1×6.2
Denmark. The 2nd "Selenus" set is about the same age or a little later. It has the typical opposite colours in the finials. Further it comes in an interesting cassette (or box) with a board at the inner side of the lid. The cassette is signed by "BJ? Eriksson Stockholm". Most likely one of the previous owners, located in Sweden.
- Denmark or Sweden, "Selenus"
- ca. 1820
- Bone K 8.9; p 4.6
- Box/board (inside lid) 27.3×27.1×5.8
Denmark. The 3rd "Selenus" set here was indicated as Danish, but it could easily have been made in Germany. I have seen similar Rooks in a Geislingen bust set. I'm not sure of the date either. Could be earlier.
There is another "Selenus" set, that could have been made in Denmark, on the Sweden page.
- Denmark or Germany, "Selenus"
- ca. 1860
- Bone K 6.7; p 3.1
Denmark. Who has not grown up with the Danish building blocks? Lego did issue several figural chess sets, but I do have only one. See Denmark (Europe). This "Iconic Chess Set", set number 40174, is a more or less playing set.
- Denmark, Lego 40174, "Iconic Chess Set"
- Plastic K 8.8; p 4.6
- Box/board 25.5×25.5×4.6
Denmark. Who has not grown up with the Danish building blocks? A rare specially released set by Bricklink to celebrate the 60th birthday of LEGO. Bricklink, since 26 November 2019 part of LEGO Group, has its AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego) design program, where, in collaboration with LEGO fans, certified LEGO sets in limited edition are released.
- Denmark, Bricklink (since 26 November 2019 part of LEGO Group)
- Set BL19013-1 Steampunk Mini Chess, design by CorvusA from Spain
- Box 39.0×27.0×6.3
Hungary. This Hungarian set has been made in war time, or soon after, at time that resources were scarce. The pieces were sawn with a jigsaw out of a wooden board and painted afterwards. It resides in an adapted box of the American Red Cross food distribution for "ömlesztett sajt", processed cheese. Once it did belong to Michael from class 3b. It has some history!
- Hungary, war set
- Wood K 4.4; p 3.4
- Box 15.8×6.5×4.1
Italy. Seller said he picked it up in south of France, but I think it is mid to late 18th century Italian, as connoisseur Massimiliano De Angelis confirmed. Knights and Rooks are rather big and more rude as the other pieces, and at least the bases of black Knights have been worked on. Italian made, altered in France has been suggested. But all wood, the dark wood as well, looks the same. So after all I suppose it has been made so as one set. Regrettable there are some damages.
- Mid to late 18th century
- Buxus + rosewood K9.1; p4.8
Italy. Antique Italian chess sets are extremely hard to find outside Italy. This set has very characteristic Italian knights. Nevertheless, it is not always recognized as antique Italian by collectors. The ivory Italian set was taken over from another collector. One could call it is a "Mazzini" set, because he owned a similar, but wooden, set.
- Late 18th century
- Ivory K 7.4; p 3.9
- Box 18.6×11.0×6.0
Italy. I was lucky to find the wooden set at Ebay. It has similarities with the more common so called Piedmontese sets. It has very characteristic Italian knights. Although Rooks are not all equal, one Bishop's base short (at manufacture?) and one pawn's finial repaired, it is in very good condition. That can't be said of the box, but that's not a chess box anyway. Rooks could have been mixed with other sets, because these sets were in use at clubs.
- Italy, "Piedmonte alike"
- 2nd half 19th century
- Wood K 6.6; p 2.4
Italy. I bought this modern abstract set in 1997 in a second hand shop in the Netherlands, not knowing much of it. It was one of the first sets I bought for my collection. In October 2022, on Catawiki, a similar set was attributed to the Italian designer Angelo Mangiarotti, made of famous Rapolano travertine in the 1950ies. Note that there are some small differences with the sets shown on internet, being incisions at base of rook and knight and under jaw of knight. Enzo Mari and Fratelli Mannelli did also work with Rapolano travertine.
- Italy, design by Angelo Mangiarotti
- Rapolano travertine K 5.0; p 2.2
- Board 41.5×41.5
Italy. This ANRI set, designed by Arthur Elliott, is called "Universum", but is also known as "Space Age Chess Set". The pamphlet is in German, but it explains that King is a Space Station, Queen a Space Ship, Bishop an Intercontinental Rocket, Knight a Satellite, Rook a Radar Station and pawns just Rockets.
- Italy, ANRI, "Universum", "Space age chess set"
- Wood K 10.4; p 4.8
- Cassette 41.5×23.2×3.5
Italy. Next 4 sets, all of metal, are made by Italfama, Florence, Italy. Although I could not find the 1st, somewhat smaller, set in the catalogue, I'm pretty sure it is Italfama and a so called "Mignon" set. 2nd and 3rd set are in the catalogue, but the 4th, again, isn't. I'm pretty sure that travel set is Italfama as well and probably it is what they call a "Staunton" set like their similar bigger sets.
- Italy, probably by Italfama, "Mignon set"?
- Solid Brass K 5.5; p 2.5
- Italy, by Italfama, "art. 15B" ("Contemporary set")
- Solid Brass K 7.0; p 3.9
- Italy, by Italfama, "art. 94B"
("little classic oriental set")
- Brass K 7.4; p 4.0
- Cassette 34.8×33.3×3.6
- Italy, probably by Italfama, "Staunton"
- 20th century
- Metal K 2.6; p 1.5
- Cassette 17.8×17.8×2.1
- Board 13.0×13.0×0.7
Poland. This chess set was bought in Berlin and, in spite of the famous Polish chest, could be German. The blue knights were absent, but it was promised to send them after. Only 1 came, so we (me, a friend and an experienced restorer) did make a copy. I did some smaller restorations as well. Note that some pictures show the imperfections before restoration. This set is not unique, I have seen another on Ebay. Actually it is more a decorative set as a set to play with.
If someone knows what the shields and characters on the Rooks mean, please tell me...
- Poland or Germany?
- Early 20th century
- Beech K 9.8+9.3; p 6.7
- Box 21.5×12.5×11.8
Poland. This odd abstract set was an early addition to my collection, bought from Johan van Mil and Erika Sziva in 1998. They could not tell other things about the set but it's Polish origin.
- 20th century
- Bolletrie K 8.0; p 3.0
Poland. This abstract set has been made in Poland. Further I did own a Polish box/board that matches it perfectly. Pieces fit in it nicely and even the upholstery is the same. So I thought it is a good marriage. I think the board is a bit older. It has some brass inlay that is omitted from the set.
- ca. 1980
- Wood K 8.7; p 5.6
- Box 39.6×19.9×5.5
- Box and set united by me
Romenia. This is a well known Romenian travel chess set with an ingenious system to fold the board, while keeping the pieces on it, when you close the box. There are some small variations in the sets I have seen. Although I do have only one, I could make a compilation picture of 3 different ones. It is the last picture in the gallery.
- 20th century, possibly pre WW2
- Wood K 2.0; p 1.6 (including pins)
- Box 22.3×12.2×4.0 (closed)
- Board 16.7×16.5
Below are Romanian sets from the period ca. 1950 till today. 6 of them were send to me by Radu Ciumara. He has given a name to the sets for reference, but it is not an official classification. Romanian sets do have similarities with Austrian coffeehouse sets. Most obviously that is seen in the Knights and the Bishops with finials in opposite colour, but other pieces do have clear relations as well. Pawns are mostly big compared to the other pieces. Unfortunately it is not known how the Romanian sets originated and evolved in the early days.
Romanian names of the pieces are: Rege, Damă, Nebun, Cal, Turn, pion. This translates literally into: King, Queen, Madman, Horse, Tower, pawn. Remarkable is that the Bishop is called "Madman" (or "Fool"), as it is in France. "Tower" and "Horse" are, for instance, like in Dutch: "Toren" and "Paard". "pion" is even the same in Dutch.
Romania, "1950ies-1960ies set” (mixed)
This set does has merged pieces from 2 or more similar sets. Probably occurred while in use during competition or simultaneous chess games. The pieces bear clear signs of usage. They have simplified, stylized forms, reduced to the essentials. There are no religious expressions like crosses or mitres. King and Queen are very basic. Bishops have a top in opposite colour. They could simply turn sides! Knights are simple, but with eyes, mouths and nostrils?, but no manes. Moreover, the white and black Knights clearly differ. Rooks lack crenellations, but have a rim and their surface deepened. Pawns are robust with a large sphere. King, Queen and Bishops wear a collar, but the other pieces not. Bases have no felt but some pieces bear traces of glue and some remnants of felt.
- Romania, "1950ies-1960ies set” (mixed)
- Wood K 8.0; p 4.5
Romania, “King&Queen coils rolls-heads set”
This set was probably made in the 1970ies. There are no religious symbols like crosses or mitres. King and Queen have a top that can be described best as coils rolls or so. Bishops have an iconic rounded ball in the colour of the opponent. Knights, in style of Viennese coffeehouse sets, have manes on the right and barely sketched mouth, eyes and nostrils. Rooks lack crenellations, but have their surface deepened. Pawns are robust with a large sphere. Bishops and pawns wear a collar, Knights and Rooks not. King and Queen do, but at lower place. Bases have green felts.
- Romania, “King&Queen coils rolls-heads set”
- ca. 1970
- Wood K 8.5; p 5.4
Romania, “King with turban ‘Delicate’ set”
This delicate set was probably made in the 1970ies. There are no religious symbols like crosses or mitres. King looks like he is wearing a turban. Queen has a pointed tip as in the 'Competition' set. Interestingly and rare: the Queen is slightly taller. It would not surprise me when King and Queen were exchanged here often. The Bishops have an iconic rounded ball in the colour of the opponent. Knights, in style of Viennese coffeehouse sets, have manes on the right and barely sketched mouth, eyes and nostrils. Rooks lack crenellations, but have their surface deepened, rather deep this time. I do suspect that they are from another, similar, set. Pawns are robust with a large sphere. Only King and Bishops wear a collar. Bases have grey felts. The carton board is an old Rumanian one and probably of same period or older.
- Romania, “King with turban ‘Delicate’ set”
- ca. 1970
- Wood K 7.5; p 4.5
- Board 34.3×34.4
Romania, “1980ies-2000ies ‘Competition’ set”
This well lacquered set was used in competitions from 1980ies into the 2000ies. King has a cross. Queen has a pointed top, as in the 'Turban' set, but here she is smaller than the king and confusion is virtually impossible. Bishops have an onion-shaped top in the colour of the opponent. The more German-like Knights have manes at the right, a very barely sketched mouth and no eyes nor nostrils. Rooks lack crenellations, but have their surface deepened. Pawns are robust with a large sphere. Only Bishops and pawns have a collar. King and Queen too, but at lower place. Bases have red felts. The carton board is a brand new Rumanian one and nowadays in use in competitions and clubs. It reads: "(Dear to) dream, you will get there!"
- Romania, “1980ies-2000ies ‘Competition’ set”
- Late 20th century
- Wood K 8.9; p 5.4
- Board 47.95×49.5
Modern popular sets, which come in a box with chess board outside and backgammon board inside, including disks and dices for checkers and backgammon, are very popular in Romenia from the 1980ies till now. They are available in 6 different sizes: NR1=26cm, NR2=32cm, NR3=38cm, NR4=45cm, NR5=50cm, NR6=65cm
Romania, “1980 ‘Popular' set (small)”, NR1
This well lacquered small sized (NR1) set was possibly made in the 80ies. King has a round tip. Queen has a pointed tip. Bishops have a ball-shaped top in opposite colour. Knights, in style of Viennese coffeehouse sets, have no features. Rooks lack crenellations. Pawns are robust with a large sphere. Only King, Queen and Bishops wear a collar. Bases have red felts. The board lacks the usual flower decoration this time. Maybe because it is an older set or of another manufacturer.
- Romania?, “1980 ‘Popular' set (small)”, NR1
- ca. 1980?
- Wood K 5.0; p 3.3
- Box/board 26.0×13.4×4.1 (closed)
Romania, “2019 ‘Popular' set (medium)”, NR3
This well lacquered medium sized (NR3) set was made in 2019. King has a cross. Queen has a pointed tip. Bishops have an onion-shaped top in their own colour, so not in those of the opponent. Knights, in style of Viennese coffeehouse sets, have manes on the right, but no other features. Rooks lack crenellations, but have their surface deepened, but only slightly this time. Pawns are robust with a large sphere. Only King, Queen and Bishops wear a collar. Bases have red felts.
- Romania, “2019 ‘Popular' set (medium)”, NR3
- Wood K 8.2; p 5.1
- Box/board 38.4×19.3×5.5 (closed)
Romania, “2019 ‘Popular' set (larger)”, NR4
This well lacquered larger sized (NR4) set was made in 2019. There are no religious symbols like crosses or mitres. The pieces are more aggressive and more solid formed. King has a button-shaped top. Note that Kings are a bite different. I suppose from factory because the set was never used. Queen has a pointed tip. The Bishops have an onion-shaped top in their own colour, so not in those of the opponent. Knights, in style of Viennese coffeehouse sets, have manes at the right, but no other features. Rooks lack crenellations and are simply flat, without deepening this time. Pawns are robust with a large sphere. Only King, Queen and Bishops wear a collar. Bases have red felts.
- Romania, “2019 ‘Popular' set (larger)”, NR4
- Wood K 8.6; p 5.6
- Box/board 44.3×22.0×6.5 (closed)
Russia. Characteristics of "Russian tournament" type sets are Kings and Queens being very similar in shape and often with finials in opposite colour, Bishops without incision, fat pawns and fat bases. No signs of religion.
1st set was bought in 2004 in Istanbul, just 1 year before Hippopotamus ivory was put on the CITES list. Someone told me that in the 1940s these sets were brought to England from French North Africa by soldiers of the second world war. In England these sets would not be uncommon, but I have never seen one there. Seller thought it was a Russian set of the 1920s made of Sperm Whale. But material is 100% sure Hippo and we have this picture of Botvinnik in the 1950ies (60ies?) with a similar chess set.
Have to say that it is one of my favourite sets, not only because of the material, but also because of those beautiful Knights and the fact that they are very playable due to their stability and weight. Very clear colour difference as well.
2nd one is most likely made around WW2 time (not sure it is pre WW2) and the 3rd is a cheap recent version. The 4th is an amusing propaganda version with politicians. Just look at the pawns and try to identify them all!
- Russia, "Russian Tournament"
- Hippopotamus ivory K 8.3; p 4.5
- The set was sold to me as Russian, ca. 1920, sperm whale
- Russia, "Russian tournament"
- ca. 1945
- Wood K 10.0; p 5.1
- Russia, "Russian tournament"
- Mid to late 20th century
- Wood K 6.6; p 3.6
- Box/Board 34.0×17.2×4.9
- Russia, "Russian tournament", politic faces
- Wood K 7.4; p 4.4
Russia. This is a lesser known Carbolite chess set from a factory that used to make Carbolite (kind of Bakelite). The company still exists today. The set has hollow pieces, which are filled with sand (or so) to make them heavier. Note that the pictures of the box are copied from the internet.
- Russia, by Carbolite company
- Carbolite (russian bakelite) K 6.8; p 4.0
Russia. The small travel set is most likely a tourist souvenir from Leningrad. Cannot say much about it, but it is from Russian Federation of about 1955. Date based on comparable sets offered on ebay and etsy by Russian sellers. Once offered as being 1970. This set has extra pieces, but misses a black pawn at the end.
- Russia, Leningrad
- ca. 1955
- Plastic K 1.4; p 1.1
- Box 12.5×10.1×2.9
- Board 8.7×8.9
Russia. I have added the "Matrioska" set, although you may argue it is more a decorative set. But you can play very well with it. The shape is not only based on the so called Matrioska dolls, but the set is actually named that way as the pamphlet tells us. Sorry, I have no picture of that pamphlet (yet).
- Russia, "Matrioska"
- Birch K 10.8; p 5.8
Russia. The last in this list is a "Barleycorn" based set by the Chess Sets Gallery, Moscow. The design is by Oleg Raikis, who was inspired by the Barleycorn sets.
- Russia, Moscow, by Chess Sets Gallery, "Barleycorn"
- Pear K 13.0; p 5.2
- Cassette/board 45.5×45.5×7.3
- Design by Oleg Raikis, inspired by the Barleycorn type
Spain. The 1st Spanish travel set in this list is one of my favourites, in spite of the fact that some pawns and possibly a red knight could be old replacements. I love the simple form of the pieces and think it is a real beauty. The board is less impressive and has the clasp replaced, but does it's job well.
- ca. 1900
- Boxwood K 5.0; p 2.6
- Box/board 17.9×8.9×3.4 (closed)
Spain. The 2nd travel set does have neat pieces in the "Staunton" style. The lacquer has been unaffected, so I think it was never played with. I bought both travel sets in the same antique shop in Barcelona.
- Spain, "Staunton"
- Mid 20th century
- Boxwood K 3.1; p 1.8
- Box/board 15.2×7.1×2.5 (closed)
Spain. This plastic set is in the "Staunton" style, but the box states "Stawton n.° 4". That is typical a naming by Escardibul in Barcelona and I'm pretty sure it is made by them, although not 100%. "Ajedrez" is Spanish for chess.
- Spain, by Escardibul in Barcelona, "Stawton n.º 4"
- Plastic K 7.1; p 4.3
- Box 19.0×11.8×7.1
- Board 43.4×43.2×41.2
Spain. The typical Spanish design of the playing set does have some Régence and Staunton influences, but stands completely on its own. I bought the set on a flew market in Barcelona for little money. Probably the set has never been used, considering the condition.
- Spain, Spanish design
- Boxwood K 5.9; p 3.6
- Box 18.3×10.4×6.8
Spain. This tiny chess set was a gift of a friend, who had bought it in Spain long ago. Most likely this set is a doll house set. Too small to play with. It is the smallest in my collection.
- Spain, miniature
- Boxwood K 1.6; p 0.9
- Box 4.2×3.0×1.5
- Board 6.2×6.0×0.5
Sweden. This "Selenus" set could have been made in Denmark, but it came from a Swedish collector and has all Swedish names underneath most of the white pieces. Moreover, bishops and rooks are uncommon for Danish sets. That's why I have put it on this Sweden page. I love the delicate form of the pieces and think it is a real beauty. It is one of my favourites in spite of the condition. The set was dated 1840 at auction, but I think it is much older, about 1800. The box/board, simulating 2 parts of a dictionary, is of English origin and not that impressive or old.
- Sweden or Denmark, "Selenus"
- ca. 1800
- Bone K 9.0; p 5.2
- Box/board 33.0×18.0×5.3 (closed)
- From a Swedish collector and with Swedish names underneath
- The bord/box is English
Switzerland, Davos. This nice little "Coffeehouse" set, according to the text in the lid of the box, has been purchased in 1905 in Davos, Switzerland. Where, or by whom, the set has been made is unclear.
- Switzerland, Davos, "coffeehouse"
- Boxwood K 6.4; p 3.2
- Original box 17.3×12.4×6.1
Turkey. This playing set has clear influence of Régence sets, not to say it is a Régence set. I bought this set in a post located antique shop in Istanbul. The elder shop owner told me that he used to play with it from the 50ies on, when he was a child. I love this set because of the primitive way it has been made and the history it has.