Rare late19th century British Chess Company (BCC) ivory Staunton chess set

About 3 years this extremely scarce set appeared on Ebay, but due to hassle from collectors the auction was cancelled. The current Ebay ban on selling ivory is causing nightmares for those who wish to sell genuine antique items – even when inherited from family -, but in these difficult times many of us out there may have pressing financial issues so bidding for Ivory chess sets involves risk as it may be far from easy to re-sell in the future, but there are exceptions, as if a ‘bucket list’ set turns up for sale the sheer pleasure of ownership can outweigh any financial loss! Recently this same set was re-listed at a fair starting bid considering how difficult it is to get such a set, but I ended up being the only bidder, and when the seller cancelled the listing due to hassle I contacted her and tried politely to negotiate a purchase. She remembered me from the past and a bargain was struck – a very amicable transaction happened quite quickly. Upon receipt of the set in a highly unusual box without any BCC stamp but lined in velvet, there was no obvious existence of a label. However with great care I removed the velvet from the inside of the lid, and underneath, and to my great joy and excitement, there was a label with rather faint writing stating ‘size 6’, and the faint writing stated what appears to be ‘ivory’, but unless I need a fresh pair of eyes it is clearly a set made of ivory. We simply don’t know why so few BCC sets of this material are out there, and one can speculate that the owners have no desire to part with these pretty scarce sets. BCC manufactured xylonite plastic sets, but again  they are very scarce. Since I have started collecting the size of the set has not been of prime importance but the quality will always take centre stage – with a king height of 7cms, this fits the bill big time.

This transaction went very smoothly as the seller was a classy lady who knows how to honour a deal – my late brother Rex once said to me “a deal is a deal “, and once agreed it should be honoured – one has to agree with his views on this as I once witnessed two collectors having a savage shouting match over a past verbal agreement to sell to the injured party –  this business was rather unsavoury, but in situations like this collector friendships can go to the wall. The opposition to the sale of ivory is pretty strong , but as a collector I simply had to purchase this set, and I won’t regret doing this as it is hard to agree with this ban. Owner health warning:-  should a buyer try to squeeze a seller by using the ban as a lever, call their bluff or tell the hyena to get lost! The photo collage of the set/ box was one saved from a few years ago, and as long as I am alive (courtesy of the NHS) BCC research will continue.




Posted on

September 26, 2020

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