Cybis Porcelain Chess Set
A Limited Edition Cybis Porcelain Chess Set #5/10, with a 7” King, circa 1970. One army is predominantly green in color and the opposing army is primarily Blue. The figural chessmen are housed in a large Mahogany storage casket housing two removable trays with fitted compartments to store the chessmen. Cybis experimented with this casket, which is larger and more elaborate than the earlier ones, but only made one. So this set and casket is unique and, as a consequence, more valuable.
The famous Cybis Porcelain Chess Set, was presented to the USSR by Richard Nixon in 1972. Cybis artists took their inspiration from the Hero tapestries in the Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum; creating their figures as a medieval court. The delicately sculptured porcelains are decorated with jewel-like enameling. Only twelve sets were created by the studio originally. The first set was the actual gift of state. The second set was given to the Smithsonian Institution where it still resides. An additional ten sets made in a numbered limited edition of 10. This is one of the original 10 sets and is NOT one of the “Hall of Fame” editions. The two versions are entirely different and do not have the same value.
Starting in the early 1990s the Cybis studio introduced the Hall of Fame edition, which is a downsized replicas of the original. Cybis made the decision to violate their longstanding “never to be issued again” rule by creating a new, smaller version with some differences. These would be an option for collectors who either could not afford or cannot locate an original.
The Hall of Fame edition differs from the original in size and possibly by a copyright date. There may also be slight differences in the color. Unfortunately when these Hall of Fame sets are offered for sale by re-sellers, they rarely include any designation which would indicate that they are not the original issue.
The Hall of Fame edition chessmen have the following dimensions: King, 6”; Queen, 5 3/4”; Bishop, 5 1/4”; Knight, 5 3/4”; Rook, 5”; and Pawn, 5 1/4”. By contrast, the original chessmen ranged in size from 7” to 8” tall. The smallest original piece, the pawn, is slightly larger than the largest Hall of Fame piece, the King.