Glass Eyed Lardy Chessmen

Lot #589. French Glass-Eyed Cavalier or Kismet Tournament Size Chessmen by Lardy

French Glass Eyed Lardy Chessmen, Tournament Size.

Offered here is a tournament-size set of French Glass Eyed Lardy Chessmen, sometimes sold under the Cavalier or Kismet name. The individual chessmen are crafted from a subtly figured Olivewood and Rosewood and are weighted and are cushioned atop green felt base pads. This King stands a 3-3/4″ tall having a 1-5/8″ diameter base. The chessmen have a natural penetrating-oil finish which responds well to an occasional light buffing with a cotton cloth. These Staunton pattern chessmen have one very unique character. The whimsical-appearing Knight have white ceramic eyes with black pupils. The chess pieces are in like-new condition. The Glass Eyed Lardy chessmen are housed in a felt-lined and divided brown leatherette Briefcase. These sets were produced after WWII, probably around 1970. The chessmen and briefcase are in excellent condition. The chessboard shown is not included in the sale. For a complete selection of our finest new and antique chessboards, please click here An extensive inventory of antique and contemporary chess timers can be found here.


Some History.

The French Lardy glass-eyed sets were sold in the U.S. under the Cavalier and Kismet name.  Advertisements for these chessmen can be found in the 1960s. The earlier versions were lacquered, whereas the later chessmen had a penetrating oil finish.  Lardy was a French chess set manufacturer, founded in 1890 in Dortan near Oyonnax in the French Jura, which closed shop in 1992. In the Post World War II era, Lardy exported very large numbers of chess sets to the major market USA and England. within a decade or so, cheap knock-offs of the Lardy chessmen were flooding the English and American markets. Although not of the same quality as the originals, buyers flocked to purchase these cheaply made, although economically priced chess sets in large quantities. The glut of these inexpensive knock-offs using cheap Indian labor eventually forced Lardy to close their doors in 1992.

Lardy was not the only French manufacturer to offer decent quality chess sets at a reasonable price.  Makers like Chavet and Drueke also tried to infiltrate this lucrative market for mid-range chessmen. For more information of the Lardy Chessmen, visit here for an interesting historical overview.

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