Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games


June 13, 2016

The mysterious “Spanish” Pulpit chess set. Despite the name, chess historians are still not entirely sure where these sets come from. One suggestion is Russia; another more plausible theory is that they were made by French soldiers and sailors held in English prisoner of war camps during the Napoleonic period. Certainly, the odd set has turned up in late 18th century English house inventories, so an English attribution is another possibility. 

Gareth Williams writes: ...”mystery surrounds the original source of the “Pulpit” family of sets, for instance. Carved from cattle bone in an original and distinctive style, and indicating a date of between 1770 and 1830, ...Like the Dieppe and Selenus sets, the Puplit has also been attributed to prisoners of war”.