Lot #860. Antique Nuremberg “Toy” Chess Set


A rare set of Antique Nuremberg “Toy” Chessmen, circa 1860.  The King stands 4.0″ tall with a 1.1″ diameter base, Natural and stained Lindenwood wood with faint hand painted faces on the Kings, Queens, and Bishops.

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Antique Nuremberg “Toy” Chess Set

Offered here is a rare Antique Nuremberg “Toy” Chess set, produced in the around 1860.  The King stands 4.0″ tall with a 1.1″ diameter base. One side is aged Lindenwood wood, the other stained brown with faint hand painted faces on the Kings, Queens, and Bishops. The chessmen, often referred to as Nuremberg or German “Toy” sets. are in excellent condition. On many “Toy” sets, there are some human aspects, like simple painted faces on the Kings, Queens and Bishops as found on this particular set. The standard for these designs included delicate, slender, lathe-turned bodies and bases, fitted with circular tiers resembling crowns. The Kings and Queens were often distinguished by their finials, height and the number of tiers. There is a clear linkage in design between this set style and the Selenus pattern sets.

The chess pieces are housed in what appears to be its original wooden hinge-top box with securing eye-and-hook latch. However, these sets are normally found in “shaker” boxes, so the authenticity of the box is uncertain.  Also included with these chessmen is the wooden roll-up chessboard shown, probably late 19th century vintage.   These chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 1-1/2″ to 1-3/4″ squares. Other suitable antique chessboards for these chessmen can be found elsewhere on this site.

Some Background

“Nuremberg”, and Augsburg as well, were centers for toy makers. They also made several chess set patterns. Among the Nuremberg pattern sheets you will find Selenus and the “Toy” sets. Nuremberg pattern chess sets are very fragile and easily damaged, Complete and undamaged sets are scarce.

“Toy” sets are so named because these sets appeared in the German toy catalogues of the mid-19th century (see “Das Sonneberger Spielzeugmusterbuch, 1831)”. These sets are most likely made in the Saxon Ore Mountains, where Nuremberg pattern sets have been found.


Additional information

Weight6 lbs
Dimensions12 × 12 × 10 in