06 June 2021

A Flawed Top Item

This month's post for Top eBay Chess Items by Price (March 2010), is flawed for a number of reasons. Before I get to the flaws, let's have the particulars. The item pictured below, titled 'Vintage Signed, Framed & Matted "Kings Chess" Collotype by Virginia Dan', sold for 'US $329.99 or Best Offer'.

The description repeated the info in the title and added,

#375 of 375; Frame - 33" x 39.5"; Artwork - 20.5" x 27.5"; COA by Gala Publications; Very Good - Excellent Condition

I had a half-dozen other items on the month's short list, but this was the most interesting visually. There was one other painting by an unknown artist showing two monks playing chess, a visual cliché in the world of chess art. Another item was much pricier, but could easily have been a fake.

I chose this item despite its flaws. The most visible flaw is the reflection of the lights in the top center. Normally I would have cropped out the matting, but here it helps to recognize the extraneous reflection for what it is.

Another flaw is the low price. Normally this would have been under the cutoff point for the short list. The position of the item was higher in the list because it added a '$214.57 shipping estimate'. On top of that, the price said, 'US $329.99 or Best Offer' -- so which is it? And if it's the best offer, why not state exactly what the offer was? I know I've mentioned this annoyance in previous posts about 'Top Chess Items' and I'm sure I'll mention it again. The eBay strategy apparently favors its sellers by keeping their buyers in the dark.

Those nitpicks aside, the image is the best I've seen for this particular work. I saved an earlier eBay example where the dominant color was deep red. Its description was nevertheless more informative:-

This wonderful, signed print called *King Chest* is from an edition limited to 850 worldwide and presented by the Beverly Hills Gallery in 1981. The print is 28 by 21 and is handsomely framed and matted in a 36 by 29 inch frame.

This important piece is signed by American artist Virginia Dan. Born in 1922, Dan made a name for herself in the art world, where her works are referred as *living paintings.* This treasure comes with a certificate of authenticity from Beverly Hills Galleries and a pamphlet on Dan and her art.

The certificate lists the medium as *Colltype* and says that the original plate has been *defaced*. This certificate lists the price in 1982 as 375 dollars. Due to light reflections, our pictures do not do this marvelous piece justice. A rare picture, this would make a great gift for any chess enthusiast or art collector.

So what's the real name of the work -- "Kings Chess" as in the most recent eBay auction or "King Chest" as in the earlier auction. I pass, although I'm partial to "Kings Chess", especially because another difference between the two descriptions is "Collotype" vs. "Colltype", where "Collotype" is correct. The Wikipedia page Collotype says,

Collotype is a dichromate-based photographic process invented by Alphonse Poitevin in 1855 to print images in a wide variety of tones without the need for halftone screens. The majority of collotypes were produced between the 1870s and 1920s.

There is another, similar piece by the same artist where the player with his back to the artist is sitting on the right. An eBay auction for that work informed,

This is a limited edition signed and numbered serigraph by famous California artist, Virginia Dan. Virginia Dan was very popular in the 1970's and 80's. Her realism is spectacular! No one captures the expressions on a face like Virginia Dan.

"Chess Players" is her most famous composition of all her pieces and has been SOLD OUT for years! This piece is number 19/350 (a very low number), and measures approximately 30" x 20" (framed) with a silver molding and a teal blue matt that matches the piece and has plexi-glass protecting the piece.

For more about the artist, see Virginia Dan Biography & Works of Art (qart.com; b.1922-d.2014).

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