Isle of Lewis Chess Pieces, a Stephen Hudson Replica
This lot features a unique replica set of Isle of Lewis Chess pieces, “Cold Cast” in a light burgundy and ivory ” ceramic material. The tallest piece, the King, stands 4-1/8″ tall with a 1-7/8″ long base. Each piece appears to have been individually hand-cast and antiqued using the proprietary process that was used by Stephen Hudson called “Cold-Casting”. The ivory colored chessmen are virtually indistinguishable from the hand-carved Walrus ivory originals. The pieces are naturally heavy, not requiring additional ballast. The bottoms of the chess pieces are polished, not felted, which leads one to speculate that these pieces might also have been produced by Stephen Hudson.
These chessmen are actually very accurate replicas of different chess pieces than those in the Stephen Hudson Isle of Lewis set, which can also be found among the original 78 Isle of Lewis Chess pieces currently residing in the British Museum.You will notice, that the ivory King is identical in appearance to the King shown Michael Taylor’s pamphlet “The Lewis Chessmen”, published by the British Chess Museum. That source actually shows BOTH Kings. The Rooks are also modeled after pieces in the British Museum collection and are different from those depicted in the Hudson set.
Being an exact replica, the chessmen are larger than the typical stone resin Lewis Chessmen currently on the market. An unusual feature of this set is, much like the originals, the pieces of the same rank are slightly different, requiring a separate mold for each of the chessmen. This can be seen very clearly in the images provided. These pieces were most likely hand-cast in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s. These Isle of Lewis chessmen will require a chessboard with 2-1/4″ squares. The chessboard shown is not included in this sale. A complete selection of our fine vintage and modern chessboards can be found here.
The Isle of Lewis Chessmen are the most important chess pieces in history. These World-famous pieces are believed to be of Scandinavian origin and carved before 1200 a.d. Ever since the ivory pieces were discovered sometime before 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, these kings, queens, knights, rooks, bishops, and pawns carved from walrus tusk and whale tooth have long fascinated us due to their exquisite craftsmanship, unusually evocative faces, and strikingly Norse character.
Today 82 of the 93 known pieces are in the British Museum, and the remaining 11 are at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Despite their fame, some key details about them remain unknown. Here are 12 facts we recently learned about the Viking ivory chessman. Most are found in Nancy Marie Brown’s new book Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them, which draws upon Icelandic sagas, archaeology, history, and forensics to locate the chessman in a time in history when the Norse ruled the North Atlantic.