Jaques Unweighted Zukertort Chessmen

Lot #435. Jaques Unweighted Zukertort Chessmen

Jaques Unweighted Zukertort Chessmen.

Offered here is a set of antique Jaques Unweighted Zukertort Chessmen, circa 1875. The chess pieces are Boxwood and Ebony, unweighted and are cushioned atop green baize base pads. The King stands 3-1/2″ tall with a 1-3/4″ diameter base. According to the Camaratta Codex, the Knights are the Jaques Zukertort style.  The White King is stamped “Jaques London ” on the rim of the base. The Kingside Rooks and Knights are stamped with a King’s crown on their summits. 

This King height is often referred to as the standard or “Tournament Size.” The Jaques Unweighted Zukertort Chessmen are housed in an old replacement cigar box. A correct facsimile of the original green label is provided. The chessmen are in condition for their age and have developed a nice honey-hue patina. These Jaques Unweighted Zukertort Chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 2-1/8″ or 2-1/4″ squares.

A chessboard  is not included in this offering, but a suitable board can be purchased elsewhere on this website. Check out https://chessantiques.com/product-category/chessboards/ for a selection of our finest new and antique chessboards,

Some History.

howardstaunton3The Staunton Pattern was first offered to the public for sale in the Fall of 1849 by the company of John Jaques of London. The original design was registered to Nathaniel Cooke in the Spring of that year. The chessmen design was named after the self-proclaimed world champion, Howard Staunton, an English Shakespearean scholar. Whether or not the design was actually the brainchild of Cooke is open to much speculation. It is relatively certain that the pattern was not designed by the egotistical Staunton, as he never laid claim to such.

What is known is that, on 1st March, 1849, Nathaniel Cooke, 198, Strand, London, registered an Ornamental Design for a set of Chess-Men, under the Ornamental Designs Act of 1842. At that date, there was no provision for the registration of any design or articles of ivory, registration was limited to Class 2, articles made chiefly of wood.

The right to manufacture such sets was acquired by John Jaques and he began to supply the retail trade on 29 September, 1849. On the same day, the following advertisement appeared Illustrated London News: AA set of Chessmen, of a pattern combining elegance and solidity to a degree hitherto unknown, has recently appeared under the auspices of the celebrated player Mr. STAUNTON. A guiding principle has been to give by their form a signification to the various pieces – thus the king is represented by a crown, the Queen by a coronet, &c. The pieces generally are fashioned with convenience to the hand; and it is to be remarked, that while there is so great an accession to elegance of form, it is not attained at the expense of practical utility. Mr. STAUNTON’S pattern adopts but elevates the conventional form; and the base of the Pieces being of a large diameter, they are more steady than ordinary sets.@ Illustrated London News, September 8, 1849.



  • The Library size (2-7/8″ King) is always unweighted.
  • The Standard size (3-/38″-3’1/2″ King) were both unweighted and weighted (after around 1855 or so).
  • The Small Club (4-0″ King) and Full Club (4-3/8″ King) sizes were always weighted.
  • Ivory sets were never weighted.

Box Configurations

  • The early unweighted wooden sets came in baize-lined mahogany hinge-top boxes as well as Carton-Pierre caskets.
  • Later, the hinge-top boxes for the unweighted wooden sets were replaced by mahogany slide top boxes. Their labels were positioned on the top of the box.
  • Weighted wooden sets always came in mahogany hinge-top boxes.
  • Ivory sets came in Carton-Pierre caskets, mahogany hinge-top boxes and leather boxes (after around 1880), as well as large fitted Spanish Mahogany coffers.


  • The earliest labels for wood, ivory and Wedgwood Cararra chessmen were white or pale blue with Entered Numbers between 01 and 999. These were all hand-signed and hand-numbered by Howard Staunton. They had “Jaques London” embossed on their labels.
  • Wooden sets came with green (Orange-yellow, briefly in the 1850s and white in the early 1900s) labels with facsimile signatures after around 1850-1851.
  • Ivory sets came with red labels before around 1890. After that, all Jaques ivory chessmen came in boxes with green labels.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: