Antique Fisher-Lund Open Crownwork Chessmen.
Offered here is a superb set of Antique Fisher-Lund Open Crownwork Chessmen, natural and red stained, stamped “Fisher, Maker, 188 Strand”. These sets were probably produced in the 1830s. The King stands 4-1/4″ tall with a 1-1/2″ diameter base. The chessmen feature open crownwork on the Kings and Queens, a Maltese Cross and a feather finial atop the King and Queen. The Rooks are pedestal mounted reeded towers. The minor pieces and Pawns have headpieces mounted atop reeded baluster stems. Although this Lund Open Crownwork Chessmen design is sometimes attributed to Samuel Fisher, the extraordinary workmanship is typical of the work of William Lund. Lund also produced this chess set pattern for sale under his own name from his workshops at 24 Fleet Street. Similar sets were also made by John Jaques among others. A page from the 1860 Jaques Pattern book shows a set of very similar design. These chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 2-1/4″ squares. The chessmen are in immaculate condition with original cochineal red stain color still strong. The chessboard shown is not included, but a suitable chessboard can be found elsewhere on this site.
This set of Fisher-Lund Open Crownwork Chessmen, like a few others sets we have seen, is stamped “Fisher, Maker, 188 Strand”. The Fisher stamp, shown here is engraved on the bottoms of the King. Although the King is stamped Fisher, the unmistakable Knight carving and pedestal-mounted Rooks clearly marks this as a product of William Lund.
Fisher-Lund Pattern chessmen are a subset of the English Playing sets produced in England during the 19th century. The term English Playing Set is used to describe a range of chess sets in common use at that time that were designed specifically for serious play. English Playing sets also included the Saint George and Calvert patterns, among others. Aside from Thomas and William Lund, English Playing Sets were produced by John Calvert, John Jaques, George Merrifield, Hezekiah Dixon and Charles Hastilow. The popularity of these designs gradually waned after the introduction of the Staunton Pattern chessmen in September of 1849. English Playing sets were ultimately supplanted by the Staunton chessmen which were introduced to the public in September of 1849.
Samuel Fisher, at 188 Strand, first shows up in the London directories in 1839 (as a dressing case maker) and continued through at least 1899. In 1882, the listings changed to Fisher & Son. Although it is generally assumed that Fisher was solely a retailer, he is curiously listed as an ivory Turner in the 1865 and 1869 trade directories, although no other references corroborate this. The Fisher firm sold all kinds of items, not just dressing cases and needles, but also billiard tables, stoves, trunks, travelling bags, scissors, Nuremberg caskets, lamps, and flasks.
The premises of Samuel Fisher could be found on the corner of Arundel Street and the Strand. Arundel Street was built in 1678 on the site of the demolished Arundel House. The picture on the left shows the shop as it was in 1851, next to the entrance to the Crown and Anchor Tavern.
Samuel Fisher was a young man from the parish of Saint John, Hampstead. He first appears in the records in 1837 when he marries Mary Smith of St. Clement Eastcheap. An advertisement in The Graphic mentions the establishment of the firm in 1838. This corresponds with what is known of the previous occupant, Francis Szarka, who left in 1838 after the expiration of the lease. The 1841 census shows the couple at 188 Strand. In various directories and advertisements Samuel Fisher is referred to as a cutler. Samuel died on 9 March 1890 at 10 Anerley Park in Surrey. An interesting short history of the Fisher firm can be found here.
William Lund. Thomas Lund’s workshop was located at 57 Cornhill, London. His sets were often stamped “ THOMAS LUND Maker 57 CORNHILL”. His son, William Lund, was located at 23-24 Fleet Street. Thomas Lund had several occupations, but one of them was the manufacture of chess sets from the early 1800’s until his death in 1843. William Lund, Thomas’ son, continued to make sets throughout the rest of the 19th century, and is one of the most well-known of the manufacturers. This particular style was most likely made by William Lund. This particular style falls under the general heading of Type I English Playing Sets.