Anri Mediolanum Chessmen, Natural Wood.
Offered here is a beautifully hand-carved Anri Mediolanum Chessmen, “Old Version”, Catalog #718-120. The chessmen represent Medieval figural busts atop slender pedestals. Each of the chessmen is left in its warm natural wood finish. The King stands an 3-7/8″ tall with a 1-1/4″ base diameter. The Black King still has the two Anri labels affixed to the base. The finely hand carved pieces from this Anri Mediolanum Chessmen are crafted from alpine maple, the bases are weighted for stability and the pieces are felted. The chessmen are housed in their original tan, two-tray, fitted cardboard display case with “Thule” imprinted in gold on the lid. Anri chessmen are 100% made in Italy for those who can appreciate the true value of these magnificent artistic chessmen. The Anri Mediolanum chessmen are excellent and were first produced in 1966.
A Little Background about Mediolanum. Mediolanum (or the Roman Mediolanum), the ancient Milan, was originally an Insubrian city, but afterwards became an important Roman city in northern Italy. Mediolanum appears to have been founded around 600 BC by the Celtic Insubres, after whom this region of northern Italy was called Insubria. According to the legend reported by Livy, the Gaulish king Ambicatus sent his nephew Bellovesus into northern Italy at the head of a party drawn from various Gaulish tribes; this Bellovesus was said to have founded Mediolanum. The Romans, led by consul Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus, fought the Insubres and captured the city in 222 BC; the chief of the Insubres submitted to Rome, giving the Romans control of the city. In Gaulish *medio- meant “middle, center” and the name element -lanon is the Celtic equivalent of Latin -planum “plain”, thus *Mediolanon (Latinized as Mediolanum) meant “(settlement) in the midst of the plain”.
A Brief History about ANRI. In the late 19th century Alois Riffeser traveled to the major European cities to sell the wood carved figurines and toys which were bought from the farmers of the Gröden Valley located in the Dolomite region of the Alps. This area in South Tyrol was part of Austria-Hungary at the time until being annexed to Italy in 1919.
In 1912 Josef Anton Riffeser founded the ANRI Company, which he named using the first two letters of his first and last name. After World War I, where he was in a prisoner of war camp in Siberia, he formulated his plan for a woodcarving company. He created his own models which he distributed successfully, mainly in the Alpine region.
When Anton Adolf Riffeser took over in 1945, he transformed the ANRI company, adopting a more industrial model which allowed for better quality control and distribution to new markets. He was followed by Ernst Riffeser who was able to enlist the services of many well known artists including Juan Ferràndiz, Sarah Kay and others. The ANRI company today is run by Thomas Riffeser, and still remains in the same family.
The wood art tradition has a long history in Val Gardena, Italy. The tradition of woodcarving dates back to the XVII century, when farmers started producing wood toys and utensils during the long winter season. The peasants than used to sell the items at spring markets. Part of the autonomous region Alto Adige/Southern Tyrol in Italy, the Val Gardena is known for its ancient romantic language, its skiing facilities – and its old tradition of woodcarving. The ANRI company’s chess sets from the 1950s through the 1980s were produced in this region and have gained collectors status, thanks to their unparalleled quality.
The Anri workshops are renowned all over the world because the wonderful wooden sculptures and statues made by the famous local sculptors and carvers.