Irish Yew Chess Set & Board, 19th century
An Irish Killarney Yew chess set and board, 19th century, one side slightly darker in colour, kings with spiked crowns, queens with ball finials, bishops with bulbous mitres, knights with large flat horses’ heads in the Irish manner, rooks as turrets, pawns with baluster knops, the king 9cm high, the pawn 5cm high, the hinged Killarney Yew and boxwood inlaid board/box for chess and backgammon, the backgammon points inlaid in satin-birch, 47.5cm wide (when open).
Stock Reference Number: FL 1534
Provenance: Private Chess Collection.
Good. One pawn base with old repair.
Scratches (very common on yew wood which has a relatively soft surface). Age cracks.
A Note From Luke
Wood from the arbutus or strawberry tree was exploited from the 1830s in the production of Irish furniture and treen. This tree flourished in South-West Ireland, where the mild and damp conditions better suited this tree of Mediterranean origin.
The centre for marquetry wares incorporating arbutus was Killarney, but by 1860 the burgeoning industry extended beyond the Killarney area. However, it exhibits many Killarney-type characteristics, including the oval framed view of Muckross Abbey, a tourist attraction near Killarney. Other local sites represented on Killarney ware include Ross Castle, Glena Cottage, Innisfallen, Dunloe Castle and Killarney House. These parquetry images were inspired by engravings published in guide books at the time. Other motifs typical of Killarney ware, such as shamrock, ferns and harps are also employed in the decoration on this board/box.
Jeremiah O'Connor of Killarney was one of the greatest exponents of Killarney marquetry ware, but similar work was produced in Dublin and Cork as well.
Austen (B.): Tunbridge Ware, Ch. 13, p178, W. Foulsham & Co., 1992.
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