Item #184. Saint George Ebony Chess Pieces
Saint George Ebony Chess Pieces.
Offered here is a full Club-Size set Saint George Ebony and Boxwood Chessmen, unweighted and unfelted, with a King height of 4.2″ and a base diameter of 1.3″. The chessmen are in excellent condition and are housed in a replacement box. One Ebony Rook has a broken crenelation. The chessmen are late Victorian period, around 1880.
The Saint George (or St. George) pattern chessmen are a variation of the ubiquitous English Playing sets designed with minor modifications, among which was the replacing of the cross finial with a simpler ball or plume, for the Saint George Chess Club. The St. George Chess Sets were designed for the Saint George Chess Club and first appeared around 1840. This is a very practical chess set design and was in common use through the early 20th Century. Aside from Jaques (see Jaques 1860 Pattern Book Image), chessmen of this type were produced by John Calvert, William and Thomas Lund, F. A. Ayres, British Company, George Merrifield, and Hezekiah Dixon, among others.
The Saint George Chess Club was formed soon after the dissolution of the Westminster Club (of which Staunton had been the Secretary) in 22nd December 1839 and reported on that date by George Walker in the newspaper Bell Life in London and Sporting News. The formation of the St George’s Chess Club was reported by Walker in the same newspaper on 29th December 1839. It would appear that the membership of the Westminster Club was encouraged to leave the Club and to join the newly formed Saint George’s Club that Walker had apparently already organised. So, the Saint George Chess Club was in existence since December, 1840 and not 1842 as has been previously reported.