21 October 2010

White Christmas on Ebay

Maybe it's me, or maybe it's because we're approaching the Christmas season, but my series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price is starting to assume a life of its own. In my previous post, Wiener Werkstaette Postcards, I remarked that I had found more items to choose from than ever before. For this post, I can say the same. Here are a few of the items I considered.

  • Chess - Essais sur les echecs by Grondijs -SIGNED- # 5/10 • Bid history: 9 bids, Winning bid: US $965.00; 'Essais sur les echecs by Harrie Grondijs. It is SIGNED, of course, and is # 5 of only 10 copies printed. Again, Mr. Grondijs' fascination with the Chapais manuscript is evident. This was published in 2009 with 32 + vii + 523pp. The 32 pp. are an introduction by the famed French collector, Jean Mennerat and comments by Mr. Grondijs. The remaining pages are the reprint of the Chapais manuscript.' • See also my previous post Saavedra and Grondijs.

  • Twiss 1st Edition Chess 1787 Benjamin Franklin Essay • Sold For: US $950.00; 'Twiss, Richard. "Chess" First Edition. G.G.J. & J. Robinson and T. & J. Egerton, 1787. An interesting and entertaining collection that comprises a "Compilation of all the anecdotes and quotations that could be found relative to the game of chess; with an account of all the chess-books which could be procured." Notably contains the first appearance of Benjamin Franklin's "final and possible greatest contribution to Chess; his essay on "The Morals of Chess," in book format! The actual first appearance of this essay was first published in the December 1786 issue of "The Columbian Magazine."'

  • Antique c1890 Federation Chess Clock: Fattorini & Sons • Bid history: 30 bids, Winning bid: GBP 585.00 (Approximately US $927.52)

  • Mens 1910's Zenith Vintage Watch Dial w/ Chess Figures • Bid history: 43 bids, Winning bid: US $865.00 • This item was very similar to the watch I featured in Time Is on My Side. The biggest differences were that here it was marked 'Zenith' instead of 'Tissot', and the small dial to count seconds was positioned at 6 o'clock instead of 9.

  • Novag Diablo Chess Computer • Bid history: 21 bids, Winning bid: US $813.00; '1991 Novag Diablo chess computer great condition, the unit works and looks great.'

Instead of those items, where I could have worked with any one, I chose Chess - Christmas Series - Roi Accule - HC - 1905 - Rebound. It received 10 bids and sold for US $814.00.

Like many players, I'm not particularly interested in chess problems (in contrast to endgame studies, which I find fascinating), but I've seen references to Alain White's work so many times that curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know a little more about who he was and why his 'Christmas Series' is so popular for collectors.

The description said,

Roi Acculé Aux Angles par Alain C. White. Published in 1905 as a HC as far as I know. This copy has been re-bound and the cover material (not the cardboard) of the original covers was attached to the new covers. Thus, the front cover and back cover and most of the spine material has been glued professionally to the new covers. Quoting from Ken Whyld, supposedly 200 copies only were printed. xi + 224pp.

The second Christmas Series book published although in the check list published by Ken Whyld, it says this is the truly 1st Christmas Series book, although Chess Lyrics is considered elsewhere to be the 1st issue. He says that Chess Lyrics took three years to finish, maybe that is why. This is a stubby little book that weighs a pound or so!

According to Great Chess Composers, by Bill Wall,

Alain Campbell White (1880-1951) was an American problem composer and chess patron. For 32 years, from 1905 to 1936, he published the Christmas series of chess problems. He did more than any other player to promote worldwide interest in chess problems.

The German version of Wikipedia has a page on White -- Alain Campbell White -- with links to other resources, including a Czech language page (Chessbookshop.com) on the A. C. White Christmas Series, listing 44 different titles.

What does 'Roi Acculé Aux Angles' mean in English? Although I speak some French, I'm not sure how to translate it. Google Translate says it means 'King Cornered In Angles', a literal translation that doesn't make a lot of sense. One page I looked at described the book as '200 direct mates featuring a cornered Black King'. At $814 for the book, that's more than $4 per mate. I'm still not sure why White is so popular with collectors. I'll report back here if I ever find out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mark, fascinating. I wish you restart the ebay chess items column again.