Antique Vizagapatam Chess Set, 4-5/8" King

Lot #24. Antique Vizagapatam Chessmen

Antique Vizagapatam Chessmen, 4-5/8″ King.

A large set of elaborately carved, antique Vizagapatam chessmen. The White army is believed to be Elk Horn, the Black army is Buffalo horn. The King stands 4-5/8” tall with a very broad 2″ diameter base. The chessmen are cushioned in royal blue base pads. The set was made by the East India John Company in Vizagapatam region of India being one of the finest areas of its time for carving. All pieces carved with elaborate foliated decoration, bishops with pierced miters, knights as unadorned horse heads. The Rooks are dual tiered with brickwork decorated towers. The box is housed in the intricately carved wooden hinge-top box shown.


The East India Company was established in Vizagapatam around 1670. In the early 18th Century, a furniture manufacturing industry developed in the region. Specialties included inlay, carving and turning work with ivory, Sandalwood, rosewood and Tortoise shell. By the early 19th century, Buffalo and Elk horn were added to the artisan materials. By the beginning of the 19th century, elaborately carved and turned ivory chess sets such as this on, were being produced for sale on the very lucrative European market.

Visakhapatnam (or, phonetically, Vizagapatam) is the largest city, both in terms of area and population in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The city is nestled between the Eastern Ghats mountain range and the Bay of Bengal, and is often known as The Jewel of the East Coast, The City of Destiny and the Goa of the East Coast. 

Visakhapatnam’s history stretches back to the 6th century BC. Archaeological records suggest that the present city was built around the 11th and 12th centuries. Conquered by the Mughals in the 16th century, European powers eventually set up trading interests in the city, and by the end of the 18th century it had come under French rule. Control passed to the British in 1804 and it remained under British colonial rule until India’s independence in 1947.

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