Lot #925. F. H. Ayres Staunton Chessmen, Small Library Size


A complete set of Antique F. H. Ayres Small Library Size Staunton Chessmen. The King stands 2-5/8″ tall with a 1-1/8″ base, Boxwood and Ebony, Pieces rest atop green baize base pads. The set includes its original unlined Mahogany hinge-top box. Excellent Condition. Circa 1920

Out of stock. Many of these items on this site are one-of-a-kind Antiques. Once they are gone, that’s it!


F. H. Ayres Small Library Size Chessmen, Staunton Pattern.

Offered here is a set of Boxwood and Ebony F. H. Ayres Small Library Size Staunton Chessmen. The King stands 2-5/8″ tall with a 1-1/8″ diameter base, which is commonly referred to as the Small Library Size. Ayres Library size sets had King heights of 2-5/8″, 2-7/8″ and 3-0″. Sets with King heights between 3-5/8″ and 3-3/4″ have become the standard praxis today for serious tournament play. The Small Club-size sets will have a 3-7/8″ to 4-1/8″ King, while the Full Club-size sets will have a 4-1/4″ to 4-1/2″ King. The chessmen are weighted and rest atop green baize base pads.  There are red crown impressions on the summits of the Kingside Rooks and Knights. The chess pieces are housed in their original unlined Mahogany hinge-top box which is missing its original brass semi-mortise lock set. This particular set of F. H. Ayres Staunton Chessmen was produced around 1920, The chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 1-1/2″ to 1-3/4″ squares. The chessmen are in excellent condition. The chessboard shown here has 1-3/4″ squares to illustrate the Ayres Library Size Chessmen on a properly sized chessboard. The chessboard is not included, but a suitable chessboard can be found here.


F. H. Ayres was an English sports and Games manufacturer and retailer dating back to 1810, doing business in Aldersgate in the city of London. It is known from various ads that they produced and sold Chess sets of various quality and styles. However, despite putting their name on most of their other products, they never put their name on their chess sets. This has led to a real problem of identifying which style Staunton chessmen they did produce and whether they sold them at the retail level or only wholesale to retailer or other manufacturers.

Antique Ayres Staunton ChessmenA report in the June, 1895 issue of Strand Magazine, by William G. Fitzgerald, documents visits to several London firms that made sporting goods. The visit to F. H. Ayres takes up most of the report. The article contains many images, though not actual photographs, but ‘half-tone’ images and no actual images of the style chessmen they manufactured. The article in the Strand Magazine article stated that Ayres employed twenty craftsmen making chess sets.

Unfortunately, aside from a few ads by Ayres illustrating rather ubiquitous images of Staunton chessmen designs, there was never a catalog produced by them illustrating the range and prices of chessmen they manufactured or any supporting images of their various designs. Until now, this style of chessmen had been attributed to F. H. Ayres with no clear proof of attribution. However, our ongoing research has uncovered this revealing page from a Benetfink & Company ad for their chessmen. This advertisement by Benetfink clearly identifies and illustrates the Ayres chess pieces. The F. H. Ayres Chessmen are of very high quality, almost the equal of Jaques of London chessmen from the same period.

Additional information

Weight4 lbs
Dimensions12 × 12 × 7 in