Anri Monsalvat “Miniatur” Chessmen.
Offered here is a very rare, beautifully hand-carved and hand-painted set of Anri Monsalvat “Miniatur” Chessmen, original Catalog #17813. This is the rarest size, with a King height of 3-1/2″. The chessmen represent King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The name of the chess set is taken from the castle where the Holy Grail is housed in the legend of “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table”. Each of the chessmen is magnificently hand-carved and painted. The finely hand carved Anri Monsalvat “Miniatur” Chessmen are crafted from alpine maple and are hand-painted and gilded, the bases are lightly weighted for ballast. Each magnificent carving rests atop burgundy felt base pads. The Kings and Queens bear the Anri label on their base undersides. The chessmen are housed in a beige cardboard display box with removable compartmented trays. The lid is embossed in gold with the word “Camelot”. The Montsalvat Medieval chess set is the most famous of the ANRI chess sets. Anri chessmen are 100% made in Italy for those who can appreciate the true value of these magnificent artistic chessmen. The chessmen are like-new and were produced between 1949 and 1960.
In the late 19th century Alois Riffeser traveled to the major European cities to sell the wood carved figurines and toys which were bought from the farmers of the Gröden Valley located in the Dolomite region of the Alps. This area in South Tyrol was part of Austria-Hungary at the time until being annexed to Italy in 1919.
In 1912 Josef Anton Riffeser founded the ANRI Company, which he named using the first two letters of his first and last name. After World War I, where he was in a prisoner of war camp in Siberia, he formulated his plan for a woodcarving company. He created his own models which he distributed successfully, mainly in the Alpine region.
When Anton Adolf Riffeser took over in 1945, he transformed the ANRI company, adopting a more industrial model which allowed for better quality control and distribution to new markets. He was followed by Ernst Riffeser who was able to enlist the services of many well known artists including Juan Ferràndiz, Sarah Kay and others. The ANRI company today is run by Thomas Riffeser, and still remains in the same family.
The wood art tradition has a long history in Val Gardena, Italy. The tradition of woodcarving dates back to the XVII century, when farmers started producing wood toys and utensils during the long winter season. The peasants than used to sell the items at spring markets. Part of the autonomous region Alto Adige/Southern Tyrol in Italy, the Val Gardena is known for its ancient romantic language, its skiing facilities – and its old tradition of woodcarving. The ANRI company’s chess sets from the 1950s through the 1980s were produced in this region and have gained collectors status, thanks to their unparalleled quality.
The Anri workshops are renowned all over the world because the wonderful wooden sculptures and statues made by the famous local sculptors and carvers.