A recent purchase from the ever reliable Tim Millard:- ‘Fine Regence pattern chessmen in boxwood, one side stained black. Fine turned pieces. Chessmen come in original mahogany chess board box, slide lid with inlaid chess board in mahogany & boxwood. The interior with mahogany compartments with various original games pieces, including boxwood & stained black draughts set, turned mahogany cup & ball game, turned wood skittles etc. The underside of box with original makers trade label. The underside of box with original makers trade label. “MOREL Baxau de las madeleine, Rue Royale St Honore No 22” Kings 4.8 CM Tall – Board box 26.5 cm x 20 CM’
As soon as I saw this delightful small set with its original box with maker’s label I thought it would be nice to have this hard to get item. Although this style of Regence does not have carved knights, no matter, as the fine turning /artistic workmanship more than compensates for the lack of carved horses heads. These chessmen pre-date the Staunton by centuries, and it is a blessing that we collectors all have different taste. The Regence pattern was criticised because of piece stability, and the pieces were confusing to play with according to some players. CCI member Patrice Plain produced an extensive paper on French sets a few years ago that is most helpful for collectors. In 1924, FIDE, the world chess federation, chose the Staunton chess set as their choice for international tournaments.
When my wife Pauline examined this collectable, she asked a good question – are the pieces damaged? No, as with directoire bishops there is an angled cut on both sides that can be mistaken for damage, however these pieces were purposely made in this way. As a collector I have a deep affection for old French sets as they simply ooze history.