Large Type I Barleycorn Chess Pieces.
Offered here is another example of a set of very early unusually large Type I Bone Barleycorn Chess pieces, with broad, simple turned ringed features on the Royal Pieces. The Large Type I Barleycorn Chess pieces are all mounted atop smooth baluster stems with simple circular bases. The chessmen are fabricated from natural and Cochineal-stained bone. True Barleycorn style chessmen have broad barrel-bodied Kings and Queens, and are normally fabricated from bone, rarely ivory. This King stands a massive 5-1/2″ tall with a 1-1/2″ diameter base. The Rooks are broad, reticulated towers with smooth rings and tapered staffs surmounted with a ball finial and flag, The Bishops, Knights and Pawns are baluster mounted headpieces. The chessmen are housed in a dark-stained wooden box, probably not original to the set. The chess pieces are in excellent condition. The chessmen play and display best on a chessboard with 2-1/4″ or 2-3/8″ squares. A chessboard is not included, but for our extensive selection of new and antique chessboards and chess timers, check here. The set was produced in the U.K. around 1800.
The term Type I Bone Barleycorn Chessmen is used to describe a range of Barleycorn designs which feature plain ringed bodies on the Kings and Queens. The Queens frequently sport a large, reticulated plume headpiece. The Kings can have a number of headpiece configurations, normally fluted and surmounted by a reticulated sphere. Rooks are normally stout towers, often sporting tapered staffs with or without flags. Bishops, Knights and Pawns are headpieces mounted atop baluster pedestals. The Type I Barleycorn chess sets probably first appeared at the end of the 18th century. and were manufactured in the U.K. and Central Europe throughout the 19th century.
The ubiquitous Barleycorn design suffered from instability and fragility. Other common complaints were that the size of the Royal pieces often obscured the view of the other chessmen during play. (Needless to say, these sets were not conducive to Blitz Chess!) The Type I Bone Barleycorn chess sets were in common use through the early 20th Century. Despite its early popularity, the design was quickly replaced by the now standard Staunton chessmen, first offered in September of 1849. The new Staunton chessmen proved to be much more stable, durable and suitable for practical play.