Lot #892. Alcoa Aluminum Metal Matrix Composite Chess Set


Offered here is the extremely rare Alcoa Aluminum Presentation Hartwig Chess Set. The metal matrix composite pieces are white and black on a polished aluminum composite chessboard. The King measures 2” by 1-1/4”. The chess set is in excellent condition. Circa 1988.


In stock


Alcoa Presentation Hartwig Chess Set.

Offered here is the extremely rare Alcoa Presentation Hartwig Chess Set which was presented to scientists attending a three-year Technical Symposium from 1986 to 1988. The pieces were mailed to the attendees in September of 1988. The chess pieces are fabricated from ALCOA’s newest Matal Matrix Composite (MMC). The set also includes a chessboard with alternating polished aluminum and MMC sheet squares with a clear polymer frame and the inscription “Centennial Technical Symposium, 1986-1988”. The King measures 2” by 1”. Each of the Pawns bears the Alcoa Aluminum Logo. The chess pieces and chess board are housed in a black wooden case nearing the Alcoa Laboratories’ distinctive logo.

The chessmen are in excellent condition. The polished Aluminum squares in the MMC chessboard shows some scratching. This limited production chess set was produced in 1988.


This advanced materials chess set was Alcoa laboratories’ gift for participating in their three-year series of Centennial technical symposia. Their goal was to develop a Memento that would serve a dual purpose, (1) portray Alcoa’s thrust into the world of advanced materials and (2) become an enduring art form. this chess set certainly satisfied their objectives.

The Design. The chess pieces were designed by Joseph Hartwig in 1923. A number of Bauhaus school of architecture and design. Founded by architect Walter Gropius in 1919 at Weimar, Germany, Hartwig utilized symbols based on the patterns of movement of the individual pieces. His chess pieces combine the stereometric shapes of the cube, cylinder and sphere.

The materials. The chess pieces are made from specially processed, free-flowing, particulates of ultrafine, alumina base powders. They represent a significant breakthrough in Alcoa laboratories’ ability to produce uniform ceramic powders. Their fabrication is also based on an Alcoa developed centering process which produces parts of high-strength and fine texture.

The chessboard is Aluminum-Lithium sheet clad with a thin layer of nearly pure Aluminum. Its alloy is 2090 (AL: 2.7% Cu – 2.2% Li). The addition of lithium to aluminum reduces the density of the resulting alloy between 7% and 15%, enough to remove 14,000 pounds from today’s jumbo jet if substituted for conventional aluminum alloys. Unfortunately, lithium is an extremely reactive metal, so Alcoa scientists were required to develop new methods in melting, alloy, furnace design, Metal treatment and filtration, and ingot casting before the product could be produced in economical quantities.

The signature-bearing aluminum sheet on either end of the chess board is the material used to make easy-opening ends for beer and beverage cans! The chessboard surround is fabricated from a clear polymer. It represented Alcoa laboratories’ interest in the use of polymeric materials as a component in the highly engineered laminate and composite material systems dominating the materials marketplace.





Additional information

Weight25 lbs
Dimensions36 × 36 × 12 in

You may also like…

  • Bell Metal Coca-Cola Chess Set

    Lot #920. Rare Bell Metal Coca-Cola Metal Chess Set


    In stock

    Add to cart
  • Ultra-Minimalist Polished Chrome Chess Set

    Lot #R101. Ultra-Minimalist Polished Chrome Chess Set


    In stock

    Add to cart