Mid to late 19th century bovine bone Staunton St. George chess set

With the recent appeal to stop the ivory ban legislation failing, a set such as this bone set just might cause a few headaches!  This nice and clean bovine bone set has very few visible bone pitting markings, and just might be confused with ivory. What collectors will want to know is how well informed the members of the ivory ban ‘police’, are, i.e. are they fully versed in being able to tell the difference between ivory and bone?

How about early plastics – British Chess Company (BCC) Xylonite chessmen 1890- early 1900’s? One can visualise some heated arguments between sellers of collectables all possibly caused by a lack of knowledge by this created ‘ivory ban police force’. Why? Ebay has claimed to be preventing the sale of antique ivory or modern 20th century ivory but I have seen dozens of such items for sale on the Bay – by the look of things it looks as if the people policing things don’t have a clue at times. The collector can easily be a victim in a situation should the collectable be mis-described.

This set has a 7cms king and could be described as ‘scarce’ as one does not see one for sale too often. One highly experienced collector and CCI member has seen on numerous occasions auction houses get it wrong. I purchased this nice little set from the ever-reliable Mr Tim Millard over 12 years ago.


Posted on

June 11, 2020


  1. Josh Ryan

    Hello and a belated welcome back! I love seeing your collection and reading your insightful comments. And thank you to Pauline for carrying on the tradition of logical skepticism. Guy, you and I exchanged comments way back in the olden days in the Ebay chess collectors club. (I went by majory1959. I quit the club out of disgust with “members” using the forum to hawk their crummy reproductions).

    Speaking of Ebay and the ivory police . . . NEVER use Ebay’s Global Shipping Program to ship or receive bone! Not only is it twice the price and twice as slow as Royal Mail, they confiscate bone items that they “suspect” are ivory, refund the purchase price, and SELL the confiscated items in a private auction to “recover their costs!” What a scam!

    They confiscated two purchases I had coming from the UK. The seller in one had referred to the item as “Bone?”. The other didn’t say anything about the material. Now, if they suspected ivory why didn’t they cancel the listings, instead of waiting until they shipped and taking them?! Both were particularly good prices for me, so I suspect they pick and choose what to confiscate so they can auction it off at a profit.

    • Pauline McCallum

      Hi Josh, Thanks very much for your email and for taking the time to drop me a line re the ivory info – I remember you very well from the Ebay collectors group days, and am very pleased you got in touch again. I am still obsessively adding to my vast collection of sets – it’s hard to work out which ones are going into the tomb with me but I’ll need to decide sooner rather than later as Pauline says she doesn’t want to be saddled with them all when my ‘endgame’ comes around! Best wishes to you and yours. Guy (typed by Pauline due to my stroke.)


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