28 July 2011

BCM, Aljechin, Lord of the Rings, Fattorini, and a Pretty Face

Whenever I start to prepare the latest edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I'm usually presented with zero, one, or two candidate items. Zero items means I have to choose something that I normally wouldn't consider, when an unusual chess set always comes to the rescue; one item means the choice is obvious; and two items mean flipping a coin. Once in a while I'm presented with many items, as in last year's post titled White Christmas on Ebay. This current post is another White Christmas. Here are the candidate items I considered, but didn't use.

One choice involved six full year sets of the British Chess Magazine (BCM) from the 19th century, each set sold separately. The set for the year 1883 sold for US $177.50, the year 1885 for $610.00, 1886 for $356.79, 1887 for $685.00, 1888 for $861.00, and 1889 for $800.00; there was no auction for the year 1884. Why the big price swings? The year 1883 was missing one month, while 1886 was the only set not listed in 'very good' condition.

The seller of the BCM sets hit the jackpot once more with an item titled 'Aljechin - manuscript "Drei Schachpartien" 1921', which received 12 bids and sold for US $760. The description said, 'This item consists of the Text part 6 foliosheets (text on rectos only) and the Games part 4 folio sheets (text on both sides). All are original carbon copies June 1921. The textpart with the name Alexander Aljechin at the end is typed, but place and date ("Berlin Juni 1921") are an original in Aljechins typical handwriting pencilled under his name.' As almost everyone knows, Aljechin = Alekhine, the fourth World Champion and a prolific writer.

I also spotted seven 'Lord of the Rings' chess sets, each one selling for $600 or more. Even more curiously, I counted four different sets among the seven. How many distinct 'Lord of the Rings' sets are out there? I'd like to come back to this question in a future post.

The most expensive item I considered was a Fattorini chess clock. It received 31 bids from 12 different bidders and sold for GBP 2,250 ('approximately US $3,676.50', according to eBay). The White Christmas post also mentioned a clock by Fattorini & Sons, which sold for far less than the current clock.

Despite all of those excellent choices, I finally selected the item that offered the best visual presentation, pictured below. It sold on 'Best Offer' for US $1,100.

Its description said,

This listing is for a beautiful framed antique oil on canvas painting of a young woman playing a game of chess with an older gentleman and a younger man observing the match. The painting is beautifully hand painted with intricate details and initialed "F.B.". We believe the painting to have been painted by "Frederick Bacon Barwell, active 1855-1897. The canvas is in very good condition showing normal signs of age only with no chips or flaking.

I guess I'm just a sucker for a pretty face.

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