ALCOA Aluminum Chess Pieces

Lot #37. ALCOA Aluminum Abstract Chess Set

Lot #612. ALCOA Aluminum Abstract Chess Set

In 1962, the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) launched a marketing program to advance the selling of their aluminum products. The game of chess was chosen as the vehicle for this campaign as it is associated with intelligence and problem solving. As a result of a design and marketing collaboration, there emerged a strikingly beautiful, very modernistic, abstract chess set designed by Austin E. Cox A.S.I.D. of “Austin Enterprises” and the advertising agency of Ketchum, McLeod & Grove. ALCOA had these mesmerizing sets produced to give to their top customers. This was a fittingly strategic move, since the companies ALCOA currently serviced, or wished to do business with, could proudly display the set with, its ALCOA DNA, in their offices.

The 32 pieces were cut from aluminum bars; the white army appearing in a natural aluminum finish, with the black army differentiated by black anodized sides with natural aluminum faces. The pieces range in size from 4 7/8″ for the King down to 3″ for the pawns. The pieces are strikingly abstract in form. The Queen is represented by a crown, the Bishop by a simple cross, the Knight is a shield and the King is, fittingly, the symbol of ALCOA. All pieces bear a stamp on their undersides: 1962 Austin Enterprises.

This set is housed in its conforming walnut case with a blue tinted Plexiglas sliding door. The case is 31″ long x 2 1/2″ high and 6″ deep. The case is designed to be wall mounted. The case shows signs of minor scuffing consistent with its age and use. The chessmen look like they have never been used. The  original blue suede chessboard is included in the price, but the attractive etched black and gray etched glass chessboard shown can be added for an $400 plus S&I.

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