Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I don't feature many chess sets, even though they constitute the most important category of chess collectibles. I don't know much about them and I'm not familiar with available online resources. The last sets I featured, Top eBay Giant Chess Sets (May 2016), were more for their novelty and trendiness.
A few days ago there was a live auction of dozens of collector sets. I wanted to feature one of them, but which one? In 'Giant Chess Sets' I had around a half-dozen sets to choose from, but the live auction had more than three dozen. I finally decided to show all of them.
Of those sets, I'll give more information about the three that sold for the highest prices. The additional info includes the original description, which is a full story on its own.
Lot 20 - A Swiss Pearwood Animal and Bird Chess Set, 19th Century; sold for US $11,000 after 9 bids.
Seller's Estimate: USD 4,000 - 6,000
'A Swiss Pearwood Animal and Bird Chess Set, 19th Century, finely carved from light and dark wood. King: 7.3 cm A similar set is illustrated in "Chessman" by Mackett Beeson, G.P. Putnam's Sons, page 110. Swiss nineteenth-century carvers produced high quality, detailed softwood chess sets. While craftsmen in the wood industry would carve sets, schools of carvers would work on the finest of them. Birds and animals were a regular theme, with "Bears of Bern" the most popular. The open winged eagles of this set are particularly rare and impressive.'
Lot 30 - Jan A. Votruba Boxwood Chess Set (Czechoslovakia, circa 1939-45); sold for US $9,500 after 24 bids.
Seller's Estimate: USD 1,500 - 2,500
'Jan A. Votruba Boxwood Chess Set (Czechoslovakia, circa 1939-45) Votruba was a member of the national orchestra in Prague as well as an avid chess player. Through the duration of World War II he documented the 2714 hours it took him to carve this set. He chose to depict historically and culturally significant Bohemian and Moravian figures.'
- Lot 29 - A Meissen 'Moors Versus Turks' Chess Set, German, 20th Century; US $8,000 after 11 bids. Seller's Estimate: USD 8,000 - 11,000 'A Meissen 'Moors Versus Turks' Chess Set, German, 20th Century, after a design by Johann Kaendler, incised numerals and pressnumern; King is 7.2 cm and Pawn 5.6 cm high; German, 20th Century, one side Turks, the other side Moors.'
As usual, I don't link to the individual auction pages, because their lifetime is limited by eBay policy. In the past, auctions were kept for three months, now it seems to be longer. Whatever the shelf life of the original listings, they can be located by searching on keywords from the item titles.