29 June 2014

Diderot Chess

Two years ago, in this series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I featured the work of Chessspy in a post titled Restoring Chess Sets. This current edition of 'Top Chess Items' once again features Chessspy, this time for an auction titled 'ANTIQUE 18th CENTURY DIDEROT CHESS SET WITH ASSOCIATED BOX, EXTREMELY RARE', pictured below. The chess set sold for US $3150 after receiving 12 bids from seven bidders.

The description added,

In the late 1700s, a man named Denis Diderot (pronounced "DEE-derr-oh") compiled an encyclopedia of all the crafts of the 18th century. The entire encyclopedia was published between 1751 and 1772. It was 17 volumes of text plus 11 volumes of etched plates. The plates showed what was available at the time and how everything in the period was made. The Encyclopedia was tremendously important then, and it is perhaps even more important now because it lets us know what was made in the 18th century and how it was all done.

There is a plate in Diderot's Encyclopedia that shows a chess set. So we know that this style of chess set is AT LEAST as old as the Encyclopedia. Well, it almost goes without saying that very few of these chess sets have survived the 250+ years. Jon Crumiller has one (look it up online using his excellent site) and there are a couple of others in the world. That is about it.

About a year ago, I was lucky enough to discover a part set: 23 of the original 32 pieces. I had to devise various method of reproducing the 18th century manufacturing method and so it has taken me quite a while to finish this exciting and unusual project. It is now complete and on auction. I have put it with a box that is vintage and has nothing whatsoever to do with the set except that it holds it very nicely and also looks good with it.

The box doubles as the board and is also shown in the photo.

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