A possible Russian Staunton chess set

This interesting set was described as a ‘Vienna Coffeehouse set’! Why?? This is because this reliable site offers very useful information on these sets, but there is nothing quite like this set being shown there:-

Old Vienna & Coffeehouse – Welcome to the Chess Museum (chess-museum.com)

and by this auction house:-

A VIENNA COFFEE HOUSE CHESS SET, ebonised and boxwood, Kings 9.5cm high approximately, late cigar container

Morphets of Harrowgate

I believe that the descriptions on at least some chess sets are given to some auction houses which may well be given by the previous owners when selling them at auction. This information is not meant to be critical of Morphets, as my dealings with this house have been pretty good. The box – clearly not being original to the set-, offers few clues as to its origin or maker. I think this set might be Russian, but I cannot be certain. With single weighted pieces the set is not a common-looking one hence this guess, also the opinion of a highly respected  CCI member who offered some assistance in my view on the set’s origin. A curious thing is that the bishops have no mitre on either side of the head, which has indeed been a feature of the few Russian sets I have owned. I like the knights’ ‘teeth’ as they remind me of a well known football manager – a bit of humour does no harm IMHO!

The set arrived in great condition, with minimal damage – the ‘small chip‘ on a pawn would barely feed a seagull, so following my KGB style pre-sale grilling, the auction house employee got it right! There are quite a few Russian sets being offered on the Bay, and they are in my humble opinion worth a look. As with US offerings the shipping costs are deal killers therefore checking out any UK sellers offering sets from both the USA and Russia are perhaps worth checking out. As with some internet sites, the information here is given in good faith, as errors in descriptions are very possible – taking what is stated here as ‘gospel’ is best considered as my opinion, with little or no monetary angle, and as a token of my gratitude for collectors giving me assistance in the pursuit of this wonderful  hobby.

Kudos to the Ebay sellers who have been trying extra hard in these very troubled times to post paid for items as quickly as they can.


Posted on

February 28, 2021


  1. Chuck Grau

    Quite sure this is Late Tsarist or Soviet. Among the markers are the king’s finial, the cut-free miter, the CV shape of the knight’s torso, and the facial and mane carvings. Great set.

    • Pauline McCallum

      Greetings Chuck, and thank you for your most welcome input – it’s good to hear that you also agree that this is a Soviet set as I had initially been advised this by an experienced CCI member.
      Warm regards


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