20 October 2011

A Barleycorn Chess Set

What does a $4000 chess set look like? Like this...

Titled 'Antique Large Bone Barleycorn Jaques Chess set' on eBay, the set received 41 bids from 15 bidders, and the winning bid was GBP 2527.00 ('approximately US $4000.49' according to eBay). In the year and a half that I've been tracking Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I don't recall another chess set selling for so much. The description was unusually informative.

Antique Bone Barleycorn Chess set, Attributable to Jaques of London; 19th century • Excellent condition. No damage, no replacements, no missing pieces. King size 5,5 inches (14 cm). Made of very high quality white ox bone. Attributable to Jaques of London by Knight design and according to surviving pages of the Jaques Pattern Book. Please refer to Alan Fersht, "Jaques and British Chess Company Chess sets" (Cambridge 2010), page 44. This is a top-notch Barleycorn set of large size. They do not get much better, although some very rare larger examples of this design do exist.

I know that some sources prefer the word 'barlycorn' instead of 'barleycorn', but I'm not sure why. There are a number of other English Barleycorn Sets pictured on Crumiller.com and a description on the Anonymous Chess Collector blog: Barleycorn sets. Unfortunately, that blog is not updated frequently. Judging by the number of emails I receive on the subject (even though I state frequently that I'm not a collector), I'm surprised there aren't more blogs on the topic of chess collecting.

No comments: