Régence Chess Set, Inscribed, Paris, 1826
A Good French Régence Pattern Boxwood & Rosewood Chess Set, Late 18th Century
bishops with bullet shaped finials, knights with canted "tri-corn" tops, rooks as smaller bulbous turrets, pawns with baluster knops, in the original box with a sliding lid inscribed: "L' Institution des S...à Paris 20 Mai 1826" (some chipping and damage).
King: 9cm high
Pawn: 4.5cm high
Box: 16cm long, 8cm high, 10cm wide.
Provenance: Gareth Williams Chess Collection. This set features in Gareth's book: "Masterpieces", Apple Press, 2000, illustrated pp. 38-39:
"A late eighteenth-century wood French 'Regency' set similar in design to one owned by Benjamin Franklin. For convenience all chessmen have been turned, the traditional horse's head for the knight being ommitted, thereby saving the manufacturer the cost of employing a skilled carver. This is a typical French playing set of the eighteenth-century. The abstract design is very neutral, an astute marketing ploy so as not to discourage their sales to various continuously volatile political and religious factions within."
Stock Reference: VW 1833
Chip to battlement on rook, age crack to bishop, chafing to finial of queen, queen slightly warped to one side, two pawns with chips to knops, one pawn very similar to the rest but a slightly darker colour, age crack to two pawns, surface dirt.
Nice shiny surface patina, chip to knops on king and queen and one bishop, further tiny chip to battlement on rook, chips to seven pawns, one pawn slightly lighter in colour.
Good. Original box. Inscribed in black ink on the lid: Institution des S...(unclear)...à Paris 20 Mai 1826.
A Note From Luke
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.
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