The Frank Camaratta Story
Frank Camaratta is the internationally recognized expert in antique Staunton and other playing sets. He has been a serious collector and researcher into antique playing chess sets, their design and history, since 1986. His serious research, which started in 1989, was centered on Jaques and other Staunton chessmen and quickly expanded into Pre-Staunton playing sets.
Mr. Camaratta is a serious chess tournament player, National title holder, International Chess Master, Collector and Historian with a broad educational and professional background. He purchases and sells chess collections, large and small, and has provided numerous appraisal and research services. In addition, Mr. Camaratta has brokered the sale of several large collections in the States and over-seas. In 1990, Mr. Camaratta founded The House of Staunton, Inc. and later, The House of Staunton Antiques, LLC.
When building the House of Staunton, Frank wanted to produce chessmen that captured the feel and exquisite old-World craftsmanship found in those early Jaques Staunton pattern chess sets. In line with that pursuit, he needed to recreate the masterful workmanship of the Knights which were derived from the noble steeds whose visages are captured in the Parthenon frieze (expropriated in 1806 by Thomas Bruce, 7th Lord of Elgin and since referred to as the Elgin Marbles). The distinctive, finely detailed Knight head was the hallmark of the original Staunton design. that unique feature is evident in every Exquisite set of House of Staunton chessmen designed by M. Camaratta.
Frank has extensive professional experience in the Aircraft and Aerospace industry. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. He served as Chief of Structures for the Sikorsky Aircraft Div. of UTC and as Director of Engineering for the Solid Rocket Boosters on the Space Shuttle prior to his retirement from UTC in 1998, at the age of 56, to devote his full attention to the House of Staunton, Inc., and to further his research on playing chess sets.
Mr. Camaratta has written several articles and has given numerous lectures on the subject of the Staunton chessmen. Among his lectures were those given at the 1990 Bi-Annual meeting of the Chess Collector’s International convention in New York, and again in 1992 in Paris and in 2006 in Miami, Florida. His articles and writings include “On Collecting Staunton Chessmen” in the November, 2008, issue of Chess Life and “The Mysterious Night Move,” postulating the Origin of the Knight move which was published in the October, 2008 issue of Chess Life, among other sources.
His research categorized the various Staunton designs and their evolution starting with their introduction in September of 1849 and uncovered the little-known errors in the registration discs found under the bases of Jaques Staunton chessmen and on their labels in the late 1850s. He was also the first person to explain and catalogue the Manufacturing labels for the Jaques chessmen. His research has
helped thousands of collectors to uncover fraud so prevalent with these antique chessmen.
He is currently working on his latest book, The Staunton Chessmen and Their Predecessors, which includes a detailed history of the Staunton chessmen, particularly Jaques of London, as well as their contemporary competitors. His research describes the style of chessmen that were prevalent before the advent of the Staunton chessmen along with a copious number of supporting photographs and associated history.
Frank’s favorite and most significant historical find was a partial set of Wedgwood Carrara Chessmen, and their corresponding Carton-Pierre casket bearing an original Howard Staunton signed label and set number (Entered No. #24) from 1849. It is the only Known example of the Jaques Wedgwood Carrara chessmen