Lot #910. Hybrid Jaques Steinitz Tournament Chessmen


A set of tournament-size, weighted Jaques Steinitz Chessmen, Boxwood and Ebony. The King stands 3.5″ tall with a 1.7″ base. The pieces are housed in their original Mahogany hinge-top box with the manufacturer’s label. The chessmen are in excellent condition. Circa 1865.

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Hybrid Jaques Steinitz Tournament Chessmen

Weighted Jaques Steinitz Chessmen

Offered here is a set of weighted Hybrid Jaques Steinitz Tournament Chessmen, which is part of the Camaratta Signature Collection. Although a reproduction, this set features Steinitz Knight heads from an authentic 1870 Jaques of London Steinitz chess set. The knight heads were salvaged from an original set which had met with an unfortunate encounter with the previous owner’s dog. Fortunately, the Knight heads survived unscathed, along with a few other pieces from the original set. Only the recovered Knight heads were used to create this hybrid. 

The King stands 3.5″ tall with a 1.7″ diameter base. In the advertisements. This was referred to as the “Tournament size”. The set is crafted from Boxwood and Ebony The chessmen rest atop green English baize base pads. “F. Cameratta U.S.A.” is inscribed on the base of the White King. The Kingside Knights and Rooks have a King’s crown mark stamped into their summits. This is a very attractive set with the very distinctive “Megamouth” or Steinitz Knights. This set of Hybrid Jaques Steinitz Chessmen is housed in a reproduction of the original Mahogany hinge-top box with a full mortise brass lock and a facsimile of the correct green manufacturer’s label. The chess pieces and the Mahogany storage box are new, except, of course, for the Knights heads, which are over 150 years old.

These chessmen have a very pleasant honey-hue. The original Jaques Steinitz Chessmen, from which the nights heads used in this set were salvaged, were produced between 1865 and 1870. These chess pieces play and display best on a chessboard with 2-1/8″ or 2-1/4 squares. A reproduction of the Leuchars folding chessboard in either red and bone or green and buff squares shown in the images is included in this sale. The folding chessboard is identical to our reproduction Carton-Pierre chessboard, but without the carton-pierre manels. For other chessboard options, our extensive inventory of antique and contemporary chessboards and chess timers can be found by clicking here. Finally, a brief history of the John Jaques company and the Staunton chessmen can be found here and here.

Wilhelm Steinitz.

Wilhelm Steinitz in 1866
Wilhelm Steinitz in 1866

Wilhelm Steinitz (May 17, 1836 – August 12, 1900) was an Austrian/American chess master, and the first undisputed World Chess Champion from 1886 to 1894. Steinitz was born on May 17, 1836, in the Jewish ghetto of Prague. The youngest of a tailor’s thirteen sons, he learned to play chess at age 12. He began playing serious chess in his twenties, after leaving Prague in 1857 to study mathematics in Vienna, at the Vienna Polytechnic.

Steinitz improved rapidly during the late 1850s, progressing from third place in the 1859 Vienna City championship to first in 1861, with a score of 30/31. During this period, he had become the strongest player in Austria and was nicknamed “the Austrian Morphy”.

Between 1873 and 1882 Steinitz played no tournaments and only one match (a 7–0 win against Blackburne in 1876). His other games during this period were in simultaneous and blindfold exhibitions, which contributed an important part of a professional chess-player’s income in those days (for example in 1887 Blackburne was paid 9 guineas for two simultaneous exhibitions and a blindfold exhibition hosted by the Teesside Chess Association).

Steinitz returned to competitive chess in the Vienna 1882 chess tournament, which has been described as the strongest chess tournament up to that time. Despite a shaky start he took equal first place with Szymon Winawer, ahead of James Mason, Johannes Zukertort, George Henry Mackenzie, Joseph Blackburne, Berthold Englisch, Louis Paulsen and Mikhail Chigorin.

Steinitz was one of the most dominant players in the history of the game. Steinitz was unbeaten in match play for 32 years, from 1862 to 1894. Although Steinitz became “world number one” by winning in the all-out attacking style that was common in the 1860s, he unveiled a new positional style of play in 1873. His new style was controversial and some even branded it as “cowardly”, but many of Steinitz’ games showed that he could conduct attacks as ferocious as those of the old school. Steinitz lost his title to Emanuel Lasker in 1894, and lost a rematch in 1896–97.

In February 1897, the New York Times prematurely reported his death in a New York mental asylum. Some authors claim that he contracted syphilis, which may have been a cause of the mental breakdowns he suffered in his last years. In the months prior to his death, he spent some time in institutions as a result of his failing mental health. His chess activities had not yielded any great financial rewards and he died a pauper in the Manhattan State Hospital (Ward Island) of a heart attack on August 12, 1900. Steinitz is buried in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn, New York. 

Additional information

Weight6 lbs
Dimensions14 × 12 × 10 in