Metal chess pieces
How the pieces move on the chessboard
Metal chess pieces are usually made from brass, the 'white' chessmen being nickel or nickel-plated brass or another metal that gives equal weight to black and white pieces. Thus the finished chess set will have a silver and gold appearance. Gold and silver plating on brass sometimes features. Apart from its potential for exquisite beauty, metal has the advantage of weight over wood. Quality wooden chess pieces need to be weighted with metal discs in the base to ensure ease of play. A greater weight creates the conception of greater value. Just imagine how heavy a 4" solid gold king would be! Copper, steel and pewter are also used to make chess pieces. The majority of metal pieces available to chess players and collectors of fine artefacts are made by Italians who have a strong tradition of style and quality in creating unique chess pieces.
Metal chess pieces can be cast in moulds. Casting can achieve a high level of intricate detail and can create good likenesses to familiar characters in themed chess sets, Alice in Wonderland and the Lord of the Rings for example. They are easier to manufacture than hand turned pieces as they can be mass produced, though the original die for the reusable mould has to be created with great skill. Each piece is a mini sculpture.
You will often detect seams in moulded metal chess pieces. The finest metal pieces are lathed. Hand turning creates a pristine, smooth finish with no moulding seams and combines highly polished smooth surfaces with a ground matt look. This look lends itself to the elegant and popular Art Deco style.
Brass chess pieces
Brass is gold in appearance and an alloy of copper and zinc. The ancient Greeks referred to brass as "golden copper" and the great philosopher Plato rated brass almost as valuable as gold! In the first century AD the Romans made use of brass on their soldiers uniforms, for making jewellery and coinage. Today Italian craftsmen hand turn brass to create stunning chess sets in the traditional Staunton style, the art deco style and other beautiful designs.
Pewter Chess Pieces
Pewter is a metal alloy frequently used to cast chess pieces, so ideally suited to making themed and novelty sets. Its use goes back to the early Bronze Age and from the Middle Ages was used in making household items and in three grades only one of which was deemed suitable for food use, having no lead. Today the pewter made in Europe is generally or 94% tin, with 1% copper and 5% antimony used as hardeners. Lead is present in old pewter, and not acceptable today for use in items that humans, especially children, might handle. Therefore chess pieces made from pewter will maintain their original colour and not oxidise, giving rise to the characteristic blue-green tone of old pewter which contains lead.
Chessboards for metal pieces
To complement the smooth sheen of metal pieces, the best contemporary boards have a high gloss, marble type finish rather than natural wood. By lacquering wood you can have strong colours, blues, reds, purples, greens, with highly reflective surfaces: a true luxury item to display and a pleasure to own. A more traditional look is achieved by the selection of fine woods. Red stained arable wood gives an elegant base to display silver and gold plated brass chessmen in the Valencia Luxury Chess Cabinet Set. Walnut with maple veneers, and briarwood with elm, highly lacquered and with ebony inlays make stylish European designed chessboards for metal pieces combining contemporary style with an antique look so characteristic of Italian design.
Imported from one of the finest chess producers in Italy and selected for their quality and beauty. Our selection of metal chess pieces have been hand picked from the Florence based collection made by Italfama. We sell both lathed and turned pieces, the cast pieces featuring some fine and intricate detail while the lathed pieces have that superb machined metal look that marries engineering with artistic craft work. Our metal chess pieces are crafted from solid brass and nickel and as such are very heavy. To say that these pieces were weighted would be an understatement.
The Perfect Gift Idea
Al of our metal chessmen are presented in beautiful gift box packaging and contain a certificate of authenticity from the manufacturers in Italy. They make the perfect present, will hold their value well and last more than one lifetime. We sell the pieces alone or you can browse our metal chess sets section to buy them with a board. We always recommend a high gloss chessboard with metal chessmen. The way the light reflects from the pieces to board always creates a truly beautiful chess set.