Antique Signed Lund Chessmen, 3.7″ King.
A set of Antique Lund Chessmen manufactured by William Lund around the middle of the 19th Century. These antique Lund chessmen are natural and Cochineal-stained. The King stands 3.7” tall with a 1.1″ diameter base. The bishop’s headpiece design would indicate that this is a later set. The underside of the white King’s base is inscribed “Will’M Lund Maker 24 Fleet Street” The chessmen are in excellent condition. A suitable chessboard is not included with this chess set, but a period-correct chessboard can be found here.
This design, with the distinctive ribbed baluster body, reticulated Kings’, Queens’ and Pawns’ headpieces, the Maltese cross surmounting the Kings and the feather finials surmounting the Queens, is likely a pre-1840s design. The more elaborate fleur-de-lis Queens finials would have adorned these sets after 1840 or so. William Lund manufactured chess sets, along with his father, Thomas Lund, who died in 1843, after which William took over his father’s Cornhill premises. William Lund was initially located at 23-24 Fleet Street around 1Type I835 and appeared in the London Trade Directories starting around 1845. William Lund continued to produce chess sets throughout the 1800s.
Cochineal Dye. To create the red dye, Carminic acid is extracted from the female cochineal insects and is treated to produce carmine, which can yield shades of red such as crimson and scarlet. The body of the insect is 19–22% carminic acid. The insects are processed by immersion in hot water or exposure to sunlight, steam, or the heat of an oven. Each method produces a different color that results in the varied appearance of commercial cochineal. It takes about 80,000 to 100,000 insects to make one kilogram of cochineal dye.
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Lund Pattern chessmen are a subset of the English Type I Playing sets. Aside from Lund, these sets were also made by Jaques of London, as illustrated in the adjoining image. The Lund sets featured finely turned chessmen with ribbed baluster bodies with stepped, domed bases, and very distinctive Knight heads. They were offered in several different sizes and configurations. Sizes can range from a small 2-5/8″ King to full-size sets measuring 4-3/4″ and larger. Kings in the better sets will have reticulated crowns surmounted by a large Maltese cross finials with either three or five small spherical adornments. The Queens have spherical reticulated headpieces surmounted with one of three finial types. The finial types are a feather finial, the more decorative fleur-de-lis finial and a simple reticulated sphere. Some sets were also produced with the Queens lacking a finial. Lund style chessmen suffer from the same instability problems as many pre-Staunton designs.
The term English Type I Playing Set is used to describe a range of English Playing chess sets, primarily fabricated from ivory, and made mostly, but not uniquely, in England during the 19th century. This poplar chess set design is characterized by ringed bodied chessmen. The Kings will normally have reticulated crowns surmounted by Maltese Cross finials. The Queens will normally sport either a Feather or Fleur de lis finial mounted atop a reticulated spherical headpiece. Rooks are normally stout, full-bodied towers, often sporting tapered staffs or flags. English Type I Playing Chess Sets first appeared at the beginning of the 19th century and were in common use through the early 20th Century. Aside from William and Thomas Lund, English Type I chessmen were produced by John Calvert, John Jaques, George Merrifield, Fischer, Hezekiah Dixon and Charles Hastilow, among others.