Hermes Antique Hand-Carved German Chessmen, Circa 1900.
Offered here is a most original and captivating set of figural chessmen, the beautifully hand-carved Hermes Antique Ivory Chessmen. This beautiful chess set was made around 1900 in Erbach, the German ivory carving center. The pieces are carved from elephant ivory, natural red stained bases differentiate the two armies. The level of detail is exceptional. The Kings and Queens are classical Medieval figures wearing headpieces surmounted by a Christian Maltese cross and orb. The bishops are the most captivating pieces, carved as representations of the Greek God Hermes (Roman Mercury) wearing a winged helmet and carrying a caduceus. The Knights are simple horse heads, but the Rooks are elephants carrying Houdas, which is most commonly seen in chess sets from India, like the Rajasthan and the East India Company John Company sets. The two opposing armies are differentiated by their base colors, natural and red. A statuesque set of chess pieces, it features a 4.6″ King with figures mounted on a 1.2″ circular plinth.
The Hermes Chessmen consist of 32 pieces. and are in new condition. The chess pieces play and display best on a chessboard with2-1/4″ to 2-3/8″ squares. For our extensive selection of modern and antique chessboards please visit here
Hermes, son of Zeus, wearer of winged sandals, was one of the most important and most referred to of the Olympian gods. He was the protector of the baby Dionysus, ran messages from the underworld, and was the trickster god who gave Pandora her famous box.
Among the ancient Greeks, Hermes was revered. Some of their earliest temples were devoted to him, and he played an important role in most of ancient history. Some sects of Christians as late as the 10th Century AD believed that Hermes was one of the earliest prophets.
The caduceus, from the Greek “herald’s wand, or staff”, is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek and Greco-Egyptian mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography, it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods.
As a symbolic object, it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations, or undertakings associated with the god. In later Antiquity, the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury. Thus, through its use in astrology, alchemy, and astronomy it has come to denote the planet and elemental metal of the same name. It is said the wand would wake the sleeping and send the awake to sleep. If applied to the dying, their death was gentle; if applied to the dead, they returned to life. The caduceus is also used as a symbol representing printing. The Caduceus is also used by healthcare organizations.