F H Ayres Staunton Chess Set – early 20th century

This cute small weighted Ayres Staunton was purchased around 2004, in a ‘Jaques’ box – how come I am claiming it is an Ayres set?  This firm was pretty well researched by a team of 4 collectors – Peter Armit, Keith Middleton, Marco Dorland, Mick Deasey and myself, and afterwards the hunt was started in earnest due to writer and researcher Gareth Williams offering to the Chess Collector International magazine (in a shortened version) an article in The Strand magazine by a William G Fitzgerald. However Keith Middleton sourced the complete article which contained a lot of decent information.

The crown stamps were touted as ‘BCC’ on various selling sites, but over time nothing has surfaced to prove us wrong, even if as correctly stated by Frank Camarrata ‘absolute proof has yet to surface’. There are many surviving Ayres sets, and judging by the number out there, one can seriously question the statement ‘BCC took on Jaques on every front’, yet on Wikipedia a list of Jaques products produced by this firm is present – even more conclusive evidence is on the website www.gamesboard.org.uk.  The Games Board website offers a wide range of games and products that have labels similar-looking to Jaques, and researcher Richard Ballam claims that the two firms (Ayres and Jaques) were at loggerheads over copyrighting all manner of things. In my opinion this puts into question  A Ferscht’s claims that ‘BCC took on Jaques on every front‘ in his 2010 book – there is not a single scrap of evidence that BCC made any of the products on the Jaques website bar chess sets. The research information offered to the public on Wikipedia, and in particular the content of the British Chess Company entries on that site, needs to be seriously questioned.

Way back in the Summer of 2004 I purchased this small weighted collectable set …..in a ‘Jaques’ box which was far too big for the set. A number of months later I managed to work out the set sold to me as a ‘Jaques’  was in fact incorrect, and I recall selling the box on to a dealer for £80.00. This set with a 6.5cms king, a nice toffee patina and gently weighted is a lovely little set, plus due to my error in purchasing this small set as a ‘Jaques’, I have no regrets in what I paid for it. This was the start of my researching ‘big time’, but I had some hard lessons to learn. So one could say paying a tidy sum of money to a Midlands pawnbroker for a so-called Jaques set was risky, however this crown stamp became something of a research bug bear to me.


Posted on

May 9, 2020

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