Early 20th century Staunton wooden chess set with glass eyed knights

A fairly recent Ebay purchase, of an unweighted Staunton set where the knights have glass eyes. Heavily weighted, lovely finish on the boxwood – and glass eyed knights – barely visible on the 3rd picture. Red marks on one knight and rook each side. Feels like quality – but with glass eyes probably hails from the 1930’s. This set is displayed on an inlaid antique board with a 15x 15 inch playing area. I have some recollection of seeing a German set or two of knights with glass eyes, however I believe that chess sets with such knights are possibly French, with my only evidence being an early cased plastic with ‘made in France’ stamped inside the case. The Chess Museum claims that a British wooden Staunton set was produced with glass eyed knights?? I have only seen a  reference to such a set on this site. Here is Nicholas Linear’s wording and a link to his site where he discusses such chessmen.:-


His dating makes a lot of sense , but he offers little information on who might have made the set, as viewing such a British set would be interesting.  The glass eyes often go missing from some horses in sets, so there a number of ‘cyclops’ knights out there, but in this set the eyes are present which is great. The set came with a stained slide lid box which does not look in my humble opinion original. The set is boxwood and ebonised, with the king being close to 3.5 inches. Probably because this item was unweighted the final auction was pretty reasonable for a collectable set.

When I was a member of an eBay collectors group fellow collectors asked the pertinent question “what is a collectable”?, and we agreed that if you buy a set, like it, then keep it then it is a collectable. Some time ago I was having a conversation with a dealer who I like and respect who stated that small sets don’t sell so well – good news for myself as many of my favoured sets, were purchased at affordable prices, and as we are not millionaires, budgeting is rather necessary.






Posted on

May 3, 2020

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