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Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games

rare-sarah-graydon-chess-set

February 26, 2018

Sarah Ann(e) Graydon (“Ann(e”) is spelled both ways in her registration design applications) was born in Ireland in 1829 or 1830. Her father, Thomas H. Graydon, was a land agent. By 1851, the family had emigrated from Ireland and were living in London. In the months before the Great Exhibition, she designed chess sets and registered her designs at the Patent Office pursuan to the Ornamental Design Act, 1842. They show her as living at at least three different addresses in those months and include two figural sets, Crusaders versus Saracens, and two playing sets that distinguished between rooks, knights and bishops that began the game on the king’s side and those on the queen’s side. This system of distinguishing those pieces seems to have begun with the registration of the Staunton pieces in 1849. 

By may 1851, when she registered a design for a figural set (showing Crusaders versus Saracens), she was living with her father and brothers at 15, Winchester Row, New Road. The 1851 census has them living at that address. The set for sale is clearly the taken from two “ornamental designs for chessmen” patented by Sarah Graydon in 1851 and it is likely that this is a prototype which Sarah took with her when she emigrated to St Catherine’s, Canada. The set was never manufactured commercially.