French Lyon Antique Chess Set

Lot #614. French Lyon Antique Chess Set

French Lyon Antique Chess Set

This is a later  French Lyon Antique chess set in Ebony and Bone, circa 1900. The Kings and Queens are adorned with bone galleys and bone base pads. The King stands 3-3/8″ tall. The chessmen are in excellent condition. The Lyon design is an extension of the ubiquitous French Régence and Directoire style chessmen. French antique chess sets cover a wide range of periods and style, dating back to before the days of Ben Franklin and André Philidor through the early  twentieth Century. Régence, Lyon and Directoire sets are fairly common, but still quite charming. These chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 1-7/8″ to 2-0″ squares. A suitable chessboard can be found on this site at

From a practical chess playing aspect, these chessmen have several shortcomings. The chess pieces are fairly unstable and easily overturned during play. Also, the Queens, Bishops,  and Pawns are sometimes confusing and difficult to tell apart. These design deficiencies were common to almost all pre-Staunton designs and were likely responsible for the huge success of the revolutionary new Staunton design, registered by Nathaniel Cooke and produced by the firm of John Jaques of London. The Staunton pattern chessmen first appeared on the English market in October of 1849 and soon displaced all other chessmen designs as the first choice of chessplayers for casual and tournament play.

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