Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mystery Chess Set

Yesterday I came across a picture of an English "Barleycorn" chess set. Suddenly, my memory was jogged. I seemed to recall a somewhat similar set that my grandmother once had. It was part of a collection of games she had brought from Scotland when she moved to America in the 1920's. Checking with my family it turns out that my brother had latched on to it - and he was kind enough to supply a picture of it which you can view above.

They are very inexpensive light wood pieces. They are not weighted and do not have felt bottoms. There was never a chess board (that we know of) that went with it.

Doing a little research, I have come across somewhat similar sets on the web. The House of Staunton calls them "Pre-Staunton Sets." Evidently this style was quite popular in Great Britain and Germany in the 19th and early 20th century before losing out to the more standard Staunton design. But what do I call it? An English Barleycorn? A French Regence? Or perhaps a St. George or a Calvert design?

Any comments would be appreciated...


Anonymous said...


Nice set! It`s definitely not a "Barleycorn", but a "Regency style". Here is a nice auction page with images of sets from different styles, but a simple google picture-search will do it, too.

Daniel, Germany

Rook Van Winkle said...

Thanks, Daniel. Your link has some great pictures of antique chess sets. Check it out if you would like to see some very cool chess sets.