Jaques Northern Upright Chessmen.
Offered here is a superb set of Jaques Northern Upright Chessmen, crafted from fine natural and Cochineal-stained African Ivory. The unique Knight head carving is consistent with Knight heads found in Pre-Staunton chessmen produced by Jaques of London. An image of a page from the 1860 Jaques Pattern book shows the Northern Upright chessmen as part of their offerings. This style of chessmen was common in the early and mid-Victorian Period and dates to the 1840s. The King stands 3-3/8″ tall with a 1-1/4″ diameter base.
An image in the Gallery shows a comparison of the Northern Upright King with a tournament-size Jaques Staunton King from a set produced in 1856.. The chessmen are in incredibly pristine condition with rich red color. The Pieces are housed in a replacement wooden hinge-top box, lined in red velour.
These Jaques Northern Upright chessmen, often referred to as the Edinburgh (sometimes Edinboro) pattern, fall into the ubiquitous category often referred to as English Playing sets, which also included the Saint George, Dublin, Lund and Calvert patterns. An image of the legendary World Champion Paul Morphy with a set of Northern Upright chessmen identical in style to the one offered here is attached. These English Playing sets were ultimately supplanted by the Staunton chessmen which were introduced to the public in September of 1849. This set of chess pieces plays and displays best on a chessboard with 1-3/4″ to 1-7/8″ squares. The antique chessboard shown in the images is not included in this offering, but a suitable antique chessboard can be purchased separately elsewhere on this website, see https://chessantiques.com/product-category/chessboards/.
Cochineal Dye. To create the red dye, Carminic acid is extracted from the female cochineal insects and is treated to produce carmine, which can yield shades of red such as crimson and scarlet. The body of the insect is 19–22% carminic acid. The insects are processed by immersion in hot water or exposure to sunlight, steam, or the heat of an oven. Each method produces a different color that results in the varied appearance of commercial cochineal. It takes about 80,000 to 100,000 insects to make one kilogram of cochineal dye.
A Bit of History.
The design of the Northern Upright chessmen is attributed to Lord John Hay around 1840 for the Edinburgh Chess Club, although this attribution has not been rigorously established. Similar sets of chessmen were made by Dixon, Thomas and William Lund, and John Calvert as well as George Merrifield, among others. This particular set was produced by the John Jaques of London firm.