Chess sets come in every variation imaginable. From cartoon characters to biblical themes there is a chess set to suite any collectors sense of aesthetic style. Chess set collecting has recently become a hot trend with boards selling for as low as five dollars to as high a one million. Like any collectable it’s easy to get carried away. A new collector should focus on one particular style chess board that they enjoy and expand their collection from there. You can tailor your collection to fit the decorating theme of your home or collect sets solely based on their quality of design and monetary value. It’s up to you. Though chess sets come in various materials the most common materials used in chess pieces are wood, plastic, pewter, glass, soapstone, and jade. Some of the more common themes found in chess sets are Egyptian, Medieval, Oriental, and Modern styles. These styles are easy to find and competitively priced.
There is no shame in beginning your collection with modern sets, or even collecting modern sets exclusively since it is an excellent way to make sure you want to devote yourself to collecting chess sets before spending a lot of money. However, always be aware that when collecting antique chess sets there is a possibility for reproductions. While reproductions can make a nice addition to any collection you should pay a fair price. Research any set before purchasing it to ensure you are getting the best deal. Unique or rare sets fetch a much higher price than standard sets, so you should be well informed to prevent being taken. Remember if it the price is too good to be true, then it probably is.
The best places to begin your collection (antique or otherwise) are estate sales, antique and collectable stores, thrift stores, yard sales, and online auctions like EBay. Like any collection it will take time to find sets that truly strike your fancy. Avoid impulse purchases. Step back from the set and view the entire set. Do designs of the individual pieces suit the theme of the whole set? Is the board in good condition? Are there any worn, torn, or scratched places that you don’t like the look of? Handle each piece. Does each piece have equal weight, color, and detail? Make sure they are all from the same set. Are there any pieces that are damaged beyond what you are comfortable with? Do all the pieces have their original finish and coasters?
If you will be collecting high end chess boards research the manufacturers before you begin to buy to avoid buying fakes. You will be surprised to find that many manufactures better known for jewelry, sculpture, or metal works also produced chess sets. For example this beautiful chess set was produced by Fabergé in 1905.
While this set which looks like it might have come from the Tiffany Royal Stained Glass studios is not an original, but instead a beautiful variant on Tiffany’s stained glass designs. Franklin mint produces many beautiful chess sets in themes as varied as the civil war to the tridimensional chess sets seen on Star Trek. Franklin Mint pieces are high quality and reasonably priced for a moderate collector. You can also find Franklin Mint chess sets on online auction sites like EBay at a greatly reduced price. These sets are usually costumer returns, so make sure the seller offers a money back guarantee along with all the proper documentation for the set.
Of course chess collecting doesn’t have to rely on brand name to make it interesting. There are wonderful wild chess creations out there waiting to be discovered. Some even have highly detailed and artistic boards and pieces. These sets can be exciting additions to your collection.
This Fantasy Theme Chess Set from The Chess Exchange is so awesome that it makes people who don’t know how to play chess want to learn. While the Giant Outdoor Garden Chess Set from Jaques of London (a very popular creator of chess sets) can turn your back yard into the place for the ultimate chess experience.
The most important thing to remember about collecting any item is to have fun with it. Don’t worry about what other people think of your collection. Buy the boards and sets you love. Maybe you will inspire others to learn the wonderful game of chess through your unique collection. By Jamie Austin