Limoges Porcelain Chessmen
Offered here is a set of antique French Limoges Porcelain Chess pieces, circa 1950. One army has a blue glaze, the opposing army wears a white glaze. The circular bases have 18K gold gilt decorated bands. The Kings and Queens are wearing gilt-trimmed crowns and holding scepters. The bishops are depicted as Court Jesters. The French name for the bishop, “le Fou” (fool), is derived from “Fou du roi”, a Jester. Knights are bridled horses´ heads. Rooks are medieval Towers. The Kings stand 2-7/8″ Tall with a 1-1/4″ diameter base. Each of the chessmen is stamped “Limoges France”. The chess pieces are housed in its original black display box with gold Fleur di Lis decorations. The case measures 12″ by 11″. The chess pieces are in mint condition. The display box top is missing its gold perimeter trim pieces. The chess pieces play and display best on a chessboard with 1-7/8″ to 2-0″ squares. The chessboards shown are not invluced, but a suitable chessboard can be found here.
A Short History of Limoges Porcelain
Marco Polo was credited with the discovery of the ceramic substance called “Porcelain” during his voyage to China. China was the only means of import for porcelain until the end of the 17th century. In the early 18th century, Marquise de Pompadour began importing from china and manufacturing porcelain in France. ‘Manufacture De Sevres’ began near Paris and became the largest porcelain distributor in Europe.
Originally, the white substance used to make the fine porcelain, referred to as Limoges, was discovered by a chemist’s wife in 1765 in hopes of being used as a soap. In St. Yrieixin, a town near Limoges, France, the substance was identified as a pure form of Kaolin. The soil of the area surrounding Limoges is rich in deposits of Kaolin and Feldspar. These are the essential ingredients for hard paste porcelain.
In 1771, Limoges, one of the oldest towns in the French kingdom, rapidly began constructing manufacturing facilities with wood burning kilns for the production of fine porcelain. The name of the city of Limoges has become synonymous with the high-quality porcelain products manufactured by those early companies. The hand painting and decorating of Limoges porcelain was done by factory approved artists.