Our Range Of Ornate Chess Pieces
Ornate chess pieces are often purchased as a purely decorate set but it's worth remembering that these beautiful sets of chessmen are ideal for that special game of chess too. Our range features some intricate hand carved sets that feature some amazing levels of detail. Our selection of sets also features some rare and unique bone sets that have been crafted from camel bones from India. These sets are extra special pieces and feature some extremely fine detail.
Antique Reproduction Pieces
Our ornate section wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of some reproductions of classic antique sets of chessmen. We have accurate reproductions of the classic Lotus Flower design, the barley corn sets as well as classics like the St George and Northern upright. In the days before the Staunton design became almost universal it was commonplace to see these classic chess pieces, these days however they are seldom seen anywhere other than antique shops or in collections.
Hand Carved Chess sets
Highly intricate designs can be achieved by hand carving and the skill of chess piece makers is legendary when it comes to carving fine hardwoods. Inevitably in hand carved wooden chess pieces there will be minor differences seen in finish in each matching piece and this is to be expected due to the hand crafting techniques used.
The intricate designs are drawn from many cultures, mainly Eastern with some religious undertones. Hardly surprising as most of these expert craftsmen are from the Indian subcontinent.
Lotus Flower hand carved chess pieces
The lotus flower is highly significant in Eastern cultures especially in Hinduism and Buddhism where it is associated with purity and beauty, though it’s meaning does vary slightly in different cultures. In India the lotus is the national flower. It symbolizes divinity, fertility, wealth, knowledge and enlightenment. An eastern highly stylized design is seen on buildings, in images, sculptures and of course woodcarving. A lotus design hand carved chess set will never fail to impress with its symmetry, beauty and intricate filigree work.
The Cannon hand made chess set is based on ancient Chinese chess pieces which have a cannon (gun) as the rook or castle piece. The pawns have stylized Chinese faces carved into them and the base of each piece is a chunky pillar with expert hand carving.
Another beautifully carved chess set is the Coiled Jerusalem set in rich red and yellow hues. The pieces have been modelled on ancient scrolls. Even though very close inspection will reveal minor differences, it is quite remarkable how exact the proportions are considering each piece is made individually and hand tooled.
Variations on the Staunton Chess set
The classic Staunton chess piece design has been tastefully developed over the years by master craftsmen and carvers. One great example of these modern interpretations is the Strasburg Series. These chess pieces carved from red sandalwood and boxwood with great skill and intricacy stand alone as a collectors prize treasure. The knights are of a unique design leaning more towards realism than the usual, stylized representation. The king has a miniature leaf design carved topknot, which sets him apart as an example of tasteful, classic, antique decoration.
Art Deco Styling
Moving from the nineteenth to the twentieth century a modern, minimal design echoing the styles of the 1930s are the Art Deco chess pieces. These pieces are carved and turned from solid sheesham wood, all hand finished with a final polish of natural wax. Because the designs are so restrained, emphasizing the geometric form rather than fussy decoration, the pieces give the wood grain surfaces the preeminence, allowing the subtle, natural patterns in the wood to display themselves. So each conical form, although sculpted in the same matching shape, it has its own unique markings for the player to enjoy.
Contemporary carved chess sets
Sitting somewhere between the Staunton and the Art Deco styles are the contemporary matt black chessmen. Here you have the original Staunton style inspiration being pared back to very simple, elegant stylized pieces. The knight, for instance, does not need the ears, eyes and mane of a horse, but is immediately recognized as such. Created from solid boxwood, the black pieces have the expensive appearance of solid ebony. The white pieces have a creamy smooth maple finish. The contemporary matt black chessmen are a fine example of how a seasoned designer instinctively knows where to stop in the design development process of hand carved wood chess pieces.
The Bath Chess Set
Of course, for sheer, classic elegance, mention has to be made of the beautiful Bath Chess Set. Crafted from the highest grade of red sandalwood and boxwood, these pieces have been two years in the making, resulting in a set of truly classic designs inspired by the world heritage city of Bath. The designer toured the city making careful note and incorporating the essence of Bath’s Georgian architectural grace.
It would be a travesty to own one of these ornate hand made chess sets and not display it prominently in your home.