British Chess Company Tournament Chessboard

Lot #478. British Chess Company Tournament Chessboard

British Chess Company Tournament Chessboard.

This offering features a British Chess Company Tournament Chessboard. The chess board squares are Sycamore and Rosewood veneer with a Mahogany veneer back and a solid Mahogany frame. The chessboard measures 20″ square. The square size is 2-1/4″. The frame is stamped “The British Chess Co, 54 Wedmore St. N“. The condition and finish of the chessboard generally good with some scratching consistent with its age and use. There is a crack as shown, plus the playing field has shrunk away from the frame along one edge. he board could use a waxing with a quality paste wax like MinWax or Lebron’s. The chess board appears to have been produced around 1900. The chessboard is designed to accommodate chessmen with a base diameter between 1-1/2″ and 1-5/8”.

These British Chess Company framed playing field style chessboards were in common use until World War II. After the War, much more economical wooden chess boards started appearing from other European countries such as Spain, Poland and Germany. Chessboards bearing the Jaques of London and British Chess Company stamping were all most likely produced by the same factory in the UK.

About the British Chess Company.

The British Chess Company (BCC) was founded by William Moffatt (1843-1918) and William Hughes, and began manufacturing chess pieces and chessboards from 1891 until their apparent demise in around 1907 or so.  The BCC attempted to compete for the chess set market against the established firm of Jaques of London. Their unique contribution to the design of Staunton chessmen, aside from their innovative, patented Imperial and Royal chessmen, was their use of Xylonite. Invented in 1869, Xylonite is a Celluloid, a class of compounds created from nitrocellulose and camphor. (Xylonite is generally considered the first thermoplastic.) Moffatt devised a method of reducing the cost or producing chessmen by molding the Knight heads from Xylonite. Carving the Knight heads can represent almost 50% of the total cost of producing a set of quality chessmen. In this manner, BCC was able to manufacture a set of high quality chessmen at half the cost of its competitors. It is sometimes claimed that BCC stopped producing their own chessmen around 1903, with other chess activities continuing for a few more years. However, that claim has not been substantiated and there is ample evidence that shows their still offering chessmen as late as 1907. Additional information on the British Chess Company can be found in the following article.

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