Antique Chess Set Market
There are many sources including EBAY online and
traditional auction houses for acquiring sets – in June 2004 the Duran Auction
In my opinion there has been a significant upward movement in the value of antique chess sets in recent years. This is due to the increase in the number of chess collectors, as evidenced by the huge amount of chess items being sold on EBAY (over 5000 at any one time). The internet has allowed collectors to source sets from all over the world from both antique stores and auction houses. This in general means good sets make good money no matter where they are sold.
Sets are usually valued by collectors according to age/rarity, quality, size and material (wood, bone, ivory, silver, amber etc)
It is very difficult to find and purchase any complete
sets made before 1750. Up
to the introduction of the
The original and most famous
There are numerous playing set patterns prior to the
the late 18th amd 19th century
large qualities of sets were produced in
Image 4 below shows a fine ivory playing set made in Dehli India around 1800 (king 11.5cms). Values at €5000.
Image 5 below is a later example of an above average Chinese ivory ‘octagonal’ base set (king 12cms) made around 1875. This highly carved set was designed more for decoration than use. Value €1800
Image 6 below shows a very early and rare carved wood
figural chess set (king 7.8cms) made in
Most collectors seek to covering all types of good antique sets and try to acquire the best example possible of each known pattern and as many unique antique sets as possible - an example of a rare 17 th /18th Century Spanish set (king 9cms) is shown in image 7 below. This would be valued at €3000.
In general the most highly prized sets are European carved
figural sets from the 17 th
/18 th /19 th
Centuries. These were always expensive and are now also very rare. Image 8 below
is an example of a very attractive and possibly unique walrus ivory polychrome
bust set (king 10cms). Made in central/northern
Another European 18th century carved wooden
figural set (king 9.5cms) of exceptional quality is on the theme of the Ottoman
Turks vs an African Sultan and his court, see image 9
below. This set was probably made in
Overall the market is very strong at the moment and antique sets of quality and rarity command increasingly high prices.
I believe trend is likely to continue given the increased number of collectors and the limited supply of quality sets available.
Quality antique box boards (with chess/backgammon) and chess clocks are also in demand.
More information is available from my website :
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Copyright Dermot Rochford 2005. Do not reproduce or publish without my prior consent.