Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games


September 03, 2019

Historic late 18th century chess set with an outstanding provenance. From the collection of chess historian, Gareth Williams, and featured in his book "Masterpieces: the story of chess, the pieces, players and passions of 1,000 years". In the original box inscribed 'Paris...1826'. Some chipping.

The 'Regency' chess set is named after the Parisian café (not the period in French history). Gareth Williams writes:

"The French Regency set...was the most popular design fo set from the mid- eighteenth century until the turn of the twentieth century...chess in the eighteenth century was centred on France, particularly Paris, where café society was emerging providing not only food and drinks, but a relaxed ambiance, encouraging clientele to linger, meet their friends, read the papers, smoke a good cigar from the Indies, or enjoy a game such as cards, checkers, backgammon and chess. The most famous of these establishments was the Café de la Régence. Originally opened in 1670 by an American, it had by 1750 become a Mecca for chess players: Philidor, Bourdonnais, Saint-Amant, Staunton, Anderssen and, Paul Morphy, all great players who fought many a battle over the tables. Other celebrities who were regular clientele of the cafe included Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre, Franklin, Jefferson, and Napoleon.