Shakespeare Theater Chessmen.
An interesting set of Shakespeare Theater Chessmen in natural and red-stained Mammoth ivory featuring Shakespeare as the King, a Jester as the Bishop, fully armored Knights, Tower Rooks and masks as Pawns. The King stands 4-3/4” tall. Circa 2005, by Oleg Raikis.
The Mammoth Ivory is excavated from the permafrost of the Siberian tundra, which the wooly mammoth inhabited for more than 160,000 years. During the last ice age, the mammoth went extinct as the direct result of rapidly plummeting temperatures that literally flash froze the entire population of Mammuthus primigenius. The dry, cold environment of Siberia combined with the massive sheets of ice from the ice age created the ideal environment for the preservation of Mammoth Ivory. The wooly Mammoth have been entombed under the Siberian permafrost ever since, waiting to be unearthed.
For more than 2,000 years, Mammoth Ivory has been traded and it remains a highly prized commodity across the world. While that demand for the Mammoth Ivory has always been higher than its supply, it skyrocketed in 1963 when the CITES agreement was enacted. This agreement banned all sales of new Elephant or Walrus Ivory, in an effort to protect the animals from extinction. As a result, Mammoth Ivory became the only type of animal-based ivory that is exempt from the international trade restrictions because it is considered to be a fossil. Over the past few years, the price of Mammoth Ivory has more than doubled, due largely to the unprecedented demand for luxury goods from such emerging countries as India and China. This trend is expected to continue.
Less than one percent of the Mammoth Ivory harvested is of suitable quality for the manufacturing of Chess pieces, making these exquisite Chessmen a rare treasure to behold.
The master Craftsman, Oleg Raikis , has been a member of Chess Collectors International for a number of years. His impressive sculptures, carved from hard woods and mammoth ivory, were displayed in the international exhibition, ‘Sculptor 1991’. Since then his work has been constantly on show, including exhibiting in Galleries in Germany, Britain and the States. Oleg also has a strong affinity with chess, having been an ambitious tournament player as a youth. His love for the game is now an inspiration for his art. He has designed and created many sets. His chess sets combine the creative imaginative skill of a master craftsman with the understanding of the practical requirements needed for a set to be acceptable as an efficient tool for an ancient Royal game.
These artistic and functional chess sets, have been much admired within our international membership, where they take a proud place in collections in Russia, the USA. Canada, Germany, Italy, Finland Netherland, and England.