Royal Chess Sets
History of Royal Chess Sets
The usage of kings and queens in chess goes back to the oldest forms of the game, long before the 15th century when chess shaped into the game it is today. However, the use of the royal pieces—namely the king and queen—has changed throughout chess’s long history. For example, the queen piece was not one of the most important pieces in the game during the first few centuries of chess! The piece that stood in the queen’s stead was named ‘vezir’, which means ‘adviser’, and moved in a very limited matter, not playing a crucial role in the outcome of the match. Before chess travelled to Europe, in some cultures, it was forbidden to have a female character on the board. It was not until later that the queen piece was introduced, and given additional moves and directions, which caused it to become a more critical piece in the game.
Another notable historical fact about a royal chess set is the presence of ornamental figures in place of standard faceless Staunton pieces. From the 15th century to the mid-19th century, it was not uncommon for royal pieces to be much more ornamental and detailed. Some pieces were even based on real-life kings and queens, ranging from Elizabeth I to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. These types of exquisitely made, detailed pieces definitely gave a new meaning to the phrase “royal chess set’!Read More
In the mid-1800s, the development of more standardized chess pieces led to a decline in highly detailed ornamental sets, and the notion ‘royal chess set’ took another turn. A standardized, traditional chess set was typically based on the Staunton model and its 17 official variations, which tended to emphasize simpler, neoclassical inspired crowns rather than royal figures with faces or other detailed features.
Modern Royal Chess Sets
If you are looking for a royal chess set in its classical depiction, then you are in luck: this traditional style is still very much in vogue, and you can find a nearly endless amount of options suited to any budget or personal taste.
If you are on a budget, look for chess sets which have a smaller, more compact design. These are often more affordable than large sets due to the compact size. If you are looking to buy chess set, or rather a higher quality royal chess set, consider one made from quality wood; or for an even more luxurious look, choose a handcrafted royal chess set that is sure to stand out in the best way possible. Follow the Kaoori store, and pick the best chess set for you or your loved ones from our wide variety.
As we discussed earlier, a ‘traditional chess set’ before the 19th century looked a lot like a royal chess set today. It’s interesting to see how the course of human history affected them over time. A part of real historical chess sets is kept in museums around the world, one of them being the famous ‘Lewis chessmen’ kept currently at the British Museum in London. And the other part, or rather the majority is kept in private collections and research institutions, which travel to different museums from time to time for temporary public display. One of the most noted chess set collectors is Jonathan Clumiller, who gathered a unique assemble of 18-19th Century pieces from all around the world, so let’s mention a few most amazing ones.
- Swiss Charlemagne Wooden Figural Set
This fantastic royal chess set is made of high-quality wood and features exquisitely realistic carvings, including Pawns in alternating poses, which speaks of the high craftsmanship of its creator. It was carved in Switzerland at the end of the 19th century.
- “John” Company Set
This breathtaking piece of art was made in East India, in the 19th century. It’s not a traditional chess set in the European sense of the word, in that the Rooks are depicted as elephants with riders on them. This royal chess set is made of ivory and features intricately detailed carving and shows a British royal army and an Indian army as opposing sides.
- Cantonese King George Set
This set, again, depicts the British Army, but this time, it’s battling China. Canton is a province in China, which gifted the world with some of the most glorious pieces of art in the chess history. Is the King George Set the best chess set from Canton? We can’t really tell, but it’s definitely a unique royal chess set. The British culture and traditions greatly influenced Canton, so the sets were made for the local market, but most of them went for export.
- Javanese Ivory Chess Set
As you can tell from the name, this set was carved in Java, Indonesia, also in the 19th century. It has Kings and Queens in traditional royal attire of the time, and their advisors, instead of bishops. The pieces are very intricately carved and depict characters from every-day life in Indonesia at the time.
- German Military Set from the mid 19th century
This work of art represents the opposing forces of French Emperor Napoleon Bonapart and Austrian Emperor Frances II. The pieces are carved in various poses and weapons, which makes them almost come to life before your eyes. Plus, they were coated with colour paint, which ads to their realistic look.
All of these sets are, naturally, not for sale, but thanks to the people who preserve them and care for them, we get to see these amazing works of human imagination and craftsmanship.
We hope to have inspired you to pursue further knowledge in playing this historic game and gaining more and passing the traditions on.
Regardless of whether you buy chess set on the budget end of the spectrum, or a spectacular and pricey royal chess set at Kaoori, it is sure to serve you well and become a valuable part of your home and family. Pick the best chess set for you and let the magic of chess take care of the rest!Read Less