Cavalier Chessmen by Lardy of France, Tournament Size.
Offered here is a tournament-size set of Cavalier Chessmen by Lardy of France, sometimes sold under the Kismet name. The individual chessmen are crafted from a subtly figured Olivewood and Rosewood, are weighted and are cushioned atop green felt base pads. This King stands a 3.4″ tall having a 1.4″ diameter base. The chessmen have a natural finish which responds well to an occasional light buffing with a cotton cloth. These Staunton pattern chessmen have one very unique character. The whimsical-appearing Knight have white ceramic eyes with black pupils. The chess pieces are housed in their original divided cardboard box. These sets were produced after WWII, probably around 1970. The chessmen and box are in very good condition. The chess pieces play and display best on a chessboard with 2″ or 2-1/8″ squares. The chessboard shown is not included in the sale. For a complete selection of game timers and our finest new and antique chessboards, please click here.
The unique glass eyed Lardy Chessmen were sold in the U.S. under the Cavalier and Kismet name. Advertisements for these chessmen can be found in the 1960s. The earlier versions were lacquered, whereas the later chessmen had a penetrating oil finish. Lardy was a French chess set manufacturer, founded in 1890 in Dortan near Oyonnax in the French Jura, which closed shop in 1992. In the Post World War II era, Lardy exported very large numbers of chess sets to the major market USA and England. within a decade or so, cheap knock-offs of the Lardy chessmen were flooding the English and American markets. Although not of the same quality as the originals, buyers flocked to purchase these cheaply made, although economically priced chess sets in large quantities. The glut of these inexpensive knock-offs using cheap Indian labor eventually forced Lardy to close their doors in 1992.
Lardy was not the only French manufacturer to offer decent quality chess sets at a reasonable price. Makers like Chavet and Drueke also tried to infiltrate this lucrative market for mid-range chessmen. For more information of the Lardy Chessmen, visit here for an interesting historical overview.