Way back in 2002 CCI member Bob Stoller wrote a piece called ‘Reflections‘ on the Staunton design, and he referred to in his opinion the most important set of chessmen ever made. This set made of tough durable plastic with a king of just over 9cms high, not Bakelite, nor any form of weighting, was used all over Ireland in competition during the 1970’s – one can only guess how many of these sets were sold. I must have played hundreds of blitz games with these pieces for fun with a pint or three.
So for nostalgic reasons I purchased this set in its original box on the Bay, as it takes back old fond memories at a very affordable price. When I read Bob’s passage I agreed with his views on these historic sets. The sets were marketed by Grace Toys, but I am unsure who manufactured these chessmen in Hong Kong. A mystery to me is why these pieces are subject to brutal treatment by younglings in our local chess club called Phones in Glasgow’s west end, survive through the playing wars of analysis, blitz etc, and barely a king’s cross in the club collection of plastic sets is broken??!
A curious thing as before league chess matches I asked older looking players what was the material the first sets were made of that they played with, e.g. wood ? Memories seemed foggy. What is amazing is the vast range of materials chessmen are and were made of, but many sellers struggle with knowing exactly what they are made of – even collectors -, myself included – it is not a crime to be unaware. Take wood type for example – the worst crime in my opinion is a supposed expert pretending to know what they are describing, and yet most collectors far prefer simple humble honesty.