Lot #153. Nathaniel Cooke 1849 Staunton Chessmen



Original Nathaniel Cooke 1849 Staunton Chessmen.

Offered here is an exact reproduction of the original Club-Size Nathaniel Cooke 1849 Staunton Chessmen, recreated by noted Staunton authority, Frank Camaratta, and produced by The House of Staunton. It is an accurate recreation of the very first Club-size Boxwood and Ebony Cooke 1849 Staunton Chessmen, registered by Nathaniel Cooke in 1849. This is a full Club-size set, featuring a 4-3/8″ King with a 1-7/8″ diameter base.

1849 Registration Lozenges

The Ebony Chessmen are very heavily weighted using Frank Camaratta’s proprietary weighting system that will prevent your Ebony chessmen from ever developing hairline cracks, a problem prevalent in new and antique weighted Ebony chessmen. These Cooke 1849 Staunton chessmen are accurate – right down to the small green registration lozenges on the underside of each piece plus the impression of a red king’s crown on the summits of one Knight and Rook from each army to designate the Kingside piece. The dark army shown here is Cocobolo. The set being offered is pure Gaboon Ebony.

Each set of the Cooke 1849 Staunton chessmen is cushioned in green English baize and housed in an accurate reproduction of the original baize-lined, hand-dovetailed Mahogany box. The box is completely

Label_488_CookexCooke_Antique_1849_HOS_Signed_Finalaccurate, with the small green Staunton Chessmen label placStaunton_Label_Small_HOSed on the underside of the lid and the hand-signed manufacturer’s label affixed to the underside of the box. Each set of chessmen bears the unique production number of each set, The box features a cast brass keyhole escutcheon, brass stop hinges and an authentic semi-mortise lock and key set – exactly like the original! The Cooke 1849 Staunton Chessmen are new and each set consists of 34 Chessmen, including four Queens, now a standard that was introduced by The House of Staunton over 20 years ago.

Here’s your chance to own a set of tournament-sized Staunton chessmen exactly as they looked when they first appeared in stores on September 29, 1849! Note the masterful workmanship on the original Knights derived from the noble steeds whose visages are captured in the Parthenon frieze (expropriated between 1801 and 1812) by Thomas Bruce, 7th Lord of Elgin and since referred to as the Elgin Marbles), the distinctive, finely detailed Knight head was the hallmark of the Staunton design. The reproduction Cooke 1849 Staunton Chessmen are hand-carved by our master artisans and crafted out of the highest grade woods. The Chess pieces are heavily weighted with luxurious billiard cloth base pads on the other Chess pieces and a beautiful finish. The design of the 1849 Cooke Series Chessmen embodies the form, board presence and craftsmanship of the original Staunton pattern Chessmen. The House of Staunton has recaptured the essence of these magnificent Chess pieces and made them available on a very limited basis.

The reproduction Cooke 1849 Staunton Chessmen exemplify a perfect combination of distinct beauty and functionality. It has been designed to withstand the rigors of practical play while maintaining an elegance which has become the hallmark of a House of Staunton chess set. The design, accuracy, quality and craftsmanship of this set is UNMATCHED by any set of Chessmen at any price.  Nothing even comes close!

Howard StauntonThe Staunton Pattern was first offered to the public for sale in the Fall of 1849. The original Staunton design was registered to Nathaniel Cooke in the Spring of that year. The chessmen design was named after the self-proclaimed world champion, Howard Staunton, an English Shakespearean scholar. Whether or not the design was actually the brainchild of Cooke is open to much speculation. It is relatively certain that the pattern was not designed by the egotistical Staunton, as he never laid claim to such.

What is known is that, on 1st March, 1849, Nathaniel Cooke, 198, Strand, London, registered an Ornamental Design for a set of Chess-Men, under the Ornamental Designs Act of 1842. At that date, there was no provision for the registration of any design or articles of ivory, registration was limited to Class 2, articles made chiefly of wood.

The right to manufacture such sets was acquired by John Jaques and he began to supply the retail trade on 29 September, 1849. On the same day, the following advertisement appeared Illustrated London News: A set of Chessmen, of a pattern combining elegance and solidity to a degree hitherto unknown, has recently appeared under the auspices of the celebrated player Mr. STAUNTON. A guiding principle has been to give by their form a signification to the various pieces – thus the king is represented by a crown, the Queen by a coronet, &c. The pieces generally are fashioned with convenience to the hand; and it is to be remarked, that while there is so great an accession to elegance of form, it is not attained at the expense of practical utility. Mr. STAUNTON’S pattern adopts but elevates the conventional form; and the base of the Pieces being of a large diameter, they are more steady than ordinary sets.@ Illustrated London News, September 8, 1849.

Shortly thereafter, the Morning Herald wrote: “A new set of Chessmen has recently appeared under the auspices of Mr. STAUNTON, who, observing their manifest superiority over the old figures in ordinary use, not only as works of art, but in the more practical necessities of convenience, has vouchsafed the guarantee of his name and recommendation. Those who have been in the habit of playing the game will remember the awkward, and inelegant structure of the generality of the shapes which have been in vogue. No artificial feeling until now has ever been brought to bear upon the formation of a pattern which should satisfy the eye both on the score of elegance and propriety.”

And the Morning Chronicle wrote: Mr, STAUNTON, the well-known Chess-player, has associated his name with a new and improved set of Chessmen, of which we have seen a specimen. The chief respect in which these Chess-men differ from the various kinds now in use in this country is that the form of each piece more effectually represents what is intended to be conveyed: as for instance, The King is surmounted by a crown, the Queen with a Queenly coronet, and so in like manner with the other pieces.

The rest is history. The Staunton pattern chessmen quickly became the World standard for serious and casual play. The relatively low production cost brought chess to the masses and did much to popularize the game. Its clean, simple design has never been equaled – the original design looks as modern today as it did upon its introduction over 166 years ago.

The House of Staunton name is now recognized World-Wide as synonymous for quality and exquisite design – the chessmen for those with exquisite taste. The perfect gift for the man or woman who has everything. They are so well respected that they even made the comics!

FoxTrotTitle FoxTrot

Additional information

Weight16 lbs
Dimensions16 x 16 x 12 in