Anri Universum Chess Set

Lot #142. Anri Universum Chess Set

Anri Universum Chess Set.

Offered here is a strikingly modern Anri Universum Chess Set, also known as the Space Age Set,  housed in a finely crafted wooden case with two fitted compartments to secure the chessmen. The case measures 11″ long x  3 1/4″ tall x 7 1/2″ wide. The King stands 4″ tall. The bases are lightly weighted and the pieces rest atop a cushion of brown felt. The bases of the Kings and Queens bear the Anri “Space Age” metal tags. The chess pieces are  abstract representations of  Space Stations, Space Ships, Missiles, Rockets, Satellites and Radar. The finely hand carved Anri Universum Chess pieces are crafted from kiln-dried White Maple and Black Walnut. The three ads shown are not part of this offering. There is no chessboard, but an authentic Anri chess board to fit these chessmen is available. The chessmen were designed by U.S. artist Arthur Elliott, who also worked as an early animator for Disney Studios. Anri chessmen are 100% made in Italy for those who can appreciate the true value of these magnificent artistic chessmen. The chessmen and case are in excellent condition. Anri Space Age, or Universum, chess sets were produced between 1958 and 1982.

Val Gadrena SculptureIn 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.


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