A curious B & Co. Staunton chess set

Recently I was asked by a collector a question about B & Co. chessmen. Probably the best place to look for images of these sought after sets is via Google images, but can they be trusted? For example, what is interesting about this set of mine, is that the four knights differ from the normal horse heads used on these sets. My set (purchased last year via eBay) has an unusual looking king’s cross/ knop, so it is easy to claim the cross was added on later, but how can one be sure? Perhaps the best way is to examine as many images of these antique sets out there. This unusual looking set has a king height excluding the cross knop of 8.25cms , base width 4.5cms.  Also via the Antique chess shop.com I have seen a set with a 7cms king:-

REF1629 B & Co Chessmen & Box – Antique Chess Shop

REF1628 B & Co Regulation Chessmen & Box – Antique Chess Shop

Hopefully a careful study will enable collectors to see what I am getting at. Having three examples of these B & Co. sets in my collection – two with incorrect looking knights- establishing the number of sizes is tricky, and not helped with reproductions which have what look like added kings crosses. Where additions are made to these sets, it would be far better if the changes are declared, as it makes research far more difficult, or else every Tom Dick and Harry out there can make so-called ‘improvements’ for a fistful of dollars ….or a few dollars more!

My set purchased on the Bay came with a quality slide lid box – a tight fit for pieces-, no damage, and the felts have a small hole under each piece.  With no damage and the pieces in mint condition, but with no information on the box, it would be very difficult to prove this is a B & Co. one. Finally I have seen via the Antique chess shop.com a weighted set in its original box with a brass plaque, with a 8.7cms tall king. Needless to say having this possibly flawed set is a great boon, and I hope my accompanying photo collage helps researchers out there.


Posted on

June 22, 2021

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