Late 19th (?) century St George style blind man’s chess set

A recent purchase, with a description which is as good as it gets. For the money spent this item surpassed expectations. In short, a cracking item, moreover I believe they are rather scarce, as I only know of two collectors – both CCI members – who have a St George style blind man’s chess sets. Armed with this knowledge I snapped this up when offered on the Bay as a Buy It Now item:-

Antique, 19th C, Victorian, St Georges chess set and draughts set for the blind | eBay

In The Chess Collector XXI NO1 2012, CCI member Mick Deasey wrote a quality piece on these sets, which in my opinion (for what it’s worth) are well worth collecting. Mick mentions a William Wood in 1848 being the inventor of this type of set, however Mick came across a letter to the editor of the monthly magazine back in 1813 thus putting to question the 1848 dating. He also mentions the British Chess Company, and Francis H Merrick contributing to the design for these sets for the blind in the late 19th century.  One might say “who cares what they look like?”, but the feel of the pieces does matter. I first played chess against a blind man back in about 1978 who is mentioned in Irish chess playing history –  a Willie Breen, in a Heidenfeld Trophy league match. Not something you forget as it seems amazing that this wonderful game can be played in the dark. This set might be earlier, as the board has a wonderful patina, and the pieces were included, plus having draughts also included made this item all the more desirable. The listing is so good, and new collectors could do themselves a lot of good by studying it – note no extravagant claims made about the set, and also note the quality photos offered, as more and more recently bunches of pieces crowded together are appearing on Ebay listings making it mighty difficult to spot damages and/or rogue/ replacement pieces. This of course probably explains why some sellers may miss things when offering collectable sets on the internet.





Posted on

September 30, 2021

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