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5:03pm on Monday, 15th March, 2010:

Chess Pieces


I thought I'd blogged about this ages ago, but a quick search of my hard drive reveals that I haven't.

I'm the proud possessor of three ivory chessmen:

These were given me by my mother last year; she in turn got them from her Auntie Edie, who regarded them as antiques. They're made of ivory. If you look close, you can see traces of red on one of the elephants (rooks), because the original chess set was in red and white:

The story is that the people in whose house my great aunt worked as a servant were having some rubbish thrown onto a bonfire for disposal. A chess set was among the rubbish; my great aunt had always liked the chess set, and asked the man doing the burning if she could have it. He'd already burned most of it, but found three pieces that he'd missed. These, he gave to my great aunt.

When I was a child, I saw the pieces in my great aunt's display cabinet. She claimed to have a lot of antiques, but none of them were remotely worth anything. I really liked these for what they were, though, so was pleased that my mum got them; I wasn't as pleased as I might have been when she passed them on to me, because she did it when my brother died. I like them, though, and so does my wife, so we keep them on display in the living room.

I often wondered what the whole set would have been worth if it hadn't been thrown away. I got my answer several years ago when just such a set appeared on the Antiques Roadshow: £750. They're 20th Century, made in (I think) China.

So, that's another heirloom I won't be selling to finance my retirement. Still, that's not the point of having them. They remind me of my childhood, my (Great) Auntie Edie (whom I liked), and they're even game-related.

I don't suppose I'll be seeing a full set on eBay any time soon, though.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).