Christie's exquisite chess sets auction

11/17/2013 – Christie's is a fine arts auction house with headquarters in London, currently the world's largest – sales in the first half of 2012 totalled some $3.5 billion, the highest in the art market history. Occasionally they have a dedicated section, and starting from the 20th of November, Christie's South Kensington section will offer for auction 106 interesting chess sets from three different collections. Take a look.

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The first collection of 45 lots is the collection of renowned tournament chess player Gareth Williams, one of the most well-known and respected figures in the chess world. He has written extensively about chess and in 2000 wrote Master Pieces, which discusses in detail the most influential chess sets in the history of the game. Some of the chess sets featuring in this book will be offered during this sale, giving enthusiasts the chance to own a chess set from Gareth William’s personal collection. One of the most exquisite sets in Gareth Williams collection is lot 514:

Lot 514: An exceptionally large Chinese-Export ivory figural chess set – Canton, early 19th century
The white king and queen modelled as George III and Queen Charlotte, the red stained side modelled as Imperial rulers, the bishops as mandarins, the knights on horse back, the rooks as elephants surmounted by mahouts and turrets, the pawns as foot soldiers. The king is 5¼ in. (13.3 cm.); the pawn 2½ in. (6.3 cm.) high. In original gilt-tooled fitted leather games board box in the form of a book, the interior with silk compartments – 24 in. (61 cm.) high. Described in G. Williams, Master Pieces, Apple Press, 2000, pp. 118-119. Estimate: £10,000 – 15,000 (($15,950 – $23,925).

Special Notice: Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

Lot 575: A large Chinese-export ivory 'puzzle-ball' figural chess set – Canton, second half 19th century. The kings and queens represent Imperial Emperors and Empresses, bishops as mandarins, the knights on horseback, the rooks as elephants, the pawns as foot soldiers holding swords (white side) and rifles (red side). The king is 10½ in. (26.5 cm.) high; the pawn 5.7/8 in. (15 cm.) high. Estimate £8,000 – £12,000 ($12,872 – $19,308).

Lot 521: A German polychrome carved bone bust type chess set – late 18th / early 19th century. The kings and queens with graduated tiers, the bishops in later felt hats, the knights as sea horses, the rooks as turrets, the pawns with knopped stems, in a fitted paper-covered pine box with glass front, restorations. The king is 3.3/8 in. (8.5 cm.); the pawn 1½ in. (3.8 cm.) high. Estimate £1,000 – £1,500 ($1,609 – $2,414).

Lot 567: A Javanese crarve soft wood figural chess set – early 20th century. One side of a darker hue, the royal pieces with headdresses and masks, the pawns as foot soldiers. The king is 4in. (10.2cm.); the pawn 2 1/8in. (5.3cm.) high. Estimate: £700 – 1,000 (($1,117 – $1,595).

Lot 501: An ebony and fruitwood Edinburgh-Upright chess set – second half of 19th century. Of usual turned form. The king is 4¼ in. (10.8 cm.) high; the pawn -- 2½ in. (6.3 cm.) high. Estimate £800 – £1,200 ($1,276 – $1,914).

Lot 509: A French bone 'Regence' pattern chess set – early 19th century. The kings and queens with urn shaped baluster bases and the rooks modelled as turrets. The king is 3.7/8 in. (9.8 cm.); the pawn 1.5/8 in. (4.2 cm.) high.
Estimate £800 – £1,200 ($1,287 – $1,931).

Lot 525: A North European ivory-mounted stained fruitwood chess set, German or Danish – mid-19th century. The knights as horse's head and rooks as castle turrets. The king is 4¼ in. (10.8 cm.); the pawn 2.3/8 in. (6 cm.) high. Estimate £800 – £1,200 ($1,287 – $1,931).

Lot 549: A North European weighted wood travelling chess set, German or Russian, late 19th / early 20th century. Eeach piece with lead base. The king is 3 in. (7.5 cm.); the pawn 1½ in. (3.8 cm.) high. Estimate £800 – £1,200 ($1,287 – $1,931).

Lot 539: A German softwood figural chess set – early 20th century. The kings possibly depicting Charlemagne. The king is 5 in. (12.6 cm.); the pawn 4 in. (10 cm.) high. Estimate £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,827 – $8,045).

Lot 537: An American glass chess set – probably late 19th century. Attributed to the Wheaton Glass Company, Millville, New Jersey, with red and blue glass droplets, one red rook with 'SPB' label for Sotheby's Parke Bernet. The king is 2½ in. (6.3 cm.); the pawn 1½ in. (3.8 cm.) high. Estimate: £800 – £1,200 ($1,276 – $1,914).

Lot 536: An Indian painted wood 'Muslim' pattern chess set – late 19th / early 20th cenutry. Of abstract form with mottled design, with bone finials. The king is 2.3/8 in. (6 cm.); the pawn 1¼ in. (3.1 cm.) high. Estimate: £2,000 – £3,000 ($3,190 – $4,785).

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