Golden Castle Mikado Travel Chess Set
The Golden Castle Mikado Travel Chess Sets were produced by Golden Castle Limited, Tokyo in Japan at the end of World War II. The red and natural lacquered Tsuge wood chessmen and wooden chessboard are contained in its original, 5″ x 7″, royal blue velvet covered hard case. The inside of the case is stamped “The Mikado, Golden Castle, Made in Japan”. The case and chessmen are in excellent condition.
This is a true Status Quo design since the case is designed to be deep enough to cover the chessmen and secure them in position on the board so a game can be discontinued and resumed at a later date without having to reconstruct the position.
Superbly crafted Stanton chessmen were produced by Golden Castle Ltd. from the end of WWII until around 1972 in five distinct sizes. All were crafted from Japanese Tsuge wood in Natural and either red or Black lacquered finishes, depending on the set design.
- The “Grandmaster” (Also called “Master”) was the largest with a 4” King. It was Natural and Black lacquered. The set was not very well weighted and lacked the appeal of the smaller “Craftsman” set.
- The “Craftsman” had a 3-1/2” King, was Natural and Black lacquered, had a good weight, and was the most desirable of the Golden Castle designs – which were based quite accurately (except for the Knights) on the 1900s Jaques 3-1/2″ Marshall design.
- The “Aristocrat” (Name not verified), which had a 3-1/4” King, Natural and Black lacquered, was a smaller version of the “Craftsman.” It was housed in a superb oval wooden dovetailed box with the Knight carved in relief on the lid. These are extremely rare and probably very few were made.
- The “Artisan” had a 3” King, Natural and Black lacquered, The chessmen were very artistically executed. One unique feature was that the Kingside and Queenside Knights were different. One had its head facing down, the other had a more traditional stance.
- The “Mikado” shown here is a quality travel set with red and natural lacquered Staunton chessmen housed in a blue velvet case.
Japanese Tsuge wood, Properly known as Satsuma-Tsuge, is the highest quality boxwood found in the Ibusuki area of Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan . This Boxwood is easily shaped, hard, polished, and often used to craft combs and other gaming products such as Shoji chessmen. The wood allows paint to display well, is not easily breakable, and develops into a distinct color with age.