Early 18th Century Dieppe Chessmen.
Here is a very interesting set of Dieppe Chessmen from the Northern France region, apparently dating to the early 18th Century. The King stands 3.4” tall with a 1.3” diameter base. The pieces are natural and red-stained. The two armies represent the “Europeans vs. Moors” (Africans), the dominant themes at the time. Dieppe’s role as the center of ivory working was undisputed for a long period, due to the extensive ivory trade of the French colony in Senegal with France. The chief conservator of the important collection of more than 2000 objects in the Château-Musées of Dieppe, explained, that from the 16th century onward, sailors of Dieppe again resumed the “ivory route” to Africa.
It is generally conceded that the 18th century represents the century of the finest works. In the 19th century examples can also be found in the treasuries of churches and in many royal collections. Here is an example of the workmanship and whimsical expressions carved into the bishops of the better sets by the more skilled sculptors. The workshops employed sculptors of varying skill levels– which shows in their works. Price lists and descriptions would show the differences between simpler and more sophisticated products, between masters and apprentices. Prices differed considerably between high quality sets for the nobility and those meant for average customers.
Below is the same set of early 18th Century Dieppe Chessmen, in the rare combination of natural and green – from “Schachpartie durch Zeiten und Welten”, Kat. Hamburg 2005, p. 152.