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Chess Sets

The predecessor of the modern game of chess was played in India prior to the 6th century A.D. From India, the game spread to Persia, then to the Muslim world, and then to southern Europe. Many forms and styles of chess existed prior to the 1800s. In the second half of the 19th century, modern chess tournaments began. The first World Chess Championship was held in 1886. In the 20th century, the World Chess Federation was formed and tournament play was standardized.

The chess set as we know it was invented in 1849 in London. The set was designed by architect Nathan Cook and included elements of Greek and Roman architecture. It was named the Staunton Chess Set after chess authority Howard Staunton who was considered to be one of the best players in the world at the time. Chess organizations all over the world have required the use of the Staunton Chess Set since the '20s.

While Staunton chess sets must be used in tournament play, many different types of chess sets are available to collectors, some dating back hundreds of years. Many collectors focus on regions when collecting sets, including Asian, English, German, Polish, Philippine, and African sets. Collectors also search for sets made of materials other than plastic, including wood, ivory, glass, porcelain, and precious metals.


Quick Facts

  • Chess was very popular in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Russian chess sets often have spire tops
  • The Soviet Union was the first to use plastic to make their chess sets
  • The Jewel Royale chess set is currently considered the most expensive chess set in the world. The set is made of solid gold and platinum, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, plus white and black pearls. It is valued at $9.8 million

Recommended Items at Auction

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Carved Stone Chess Set in Carrying Case
Oct 13, 11:00 AM EDT
Carved Stone Chess Set in Carrying Case
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $200- $300
$152 Bids
GRAEME ANTHONY IMPERIAL DRAGON CHESS SET, LEONARD JOEL LOCAL DELIVERY: MEDIUM
Oct 06, 10:30 AM AEDT
GRAEME ANTHONY IMPERIAL DRAGON CHESS SET, LEONARD JOEL LOCAL DELIVERY: MEDIUM
by Leonard Joel
Est: AUD260- AUD360
AUD2202 Bids
KEITH HARING, COLORFUL CHESS SET
Oct 16, 12:00 PM EDT
KEITH HARING, COLORFUL CHESS SET
by White Knight Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1102 Bids
Carved Stone MAYAN MASTER Guatemalan Chess Set
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Carved Stone MAYAN MASTER Guatemalan Chess Set
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $100- $200
$201 Bid
32 Metal chess pieces with animal figures, etc.
Oct 10, 7:00 PM CEST
32 Metal chess pieces with animal figures, etc.
by Van Zadelhoff Veilingen en Taxaties
Est: €60- €85
€451 Bid
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Bakelite Set of Chessmen in Case, circa 1930s, E. S. Lowe Co. 2 x 15 x 10 inches
Oct 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Bakelite Set of Chessmen in Case, circa 1930s, E. S. Lowe Co. 2 x 15 x 10 inches
by Heritage Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$21 Bid
J James Akston 1898-1983 Abstract Bronze Chess Set
Oct 26, 12:00 PM EDT
J James Akston 1898-1983 Abstract Bronze Chess Set
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$501 Bid
AN ANTIQUE JACQUES TOURNAMENT CHESS SET. Largest 8.5 cm high. (qty)
Oct 11, 9:30 AM BST
AN ANTIQUE JACQUES TOURNAMENT CHESS SET. Largest 8.5 cm high. (qty)
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £80- £120
£601 Bid
Swarovski chess set 155753.
Oct 11, 10:00 AM CEST
Swarovski chess set 155753.
by Veilinghuis de Ruiter
Est: €300- €600
€3000 Bids
A Montsalvat partial chess set and a Pinocchio, Anri, last quarter 20th century
Oct 13, 9:00 AM EDT
A Montsalvat partial chess set and a Pinocchio, Anri, last quarter 20th century
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
FRANKLIN MINT TUTANKHAMON CHESS SET
Oct 09, 2:00 PM PDT
FRANKLIN MINT TUTANKHAMON CHESS SET
by Louvre Antique Auction
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$1,2000 Bids
A Wooden Chess Board with Onyx Chess Pieces
Oct 09, 1:00 PM EDT
A Wooden Chess Board with Onyx Chess Pieces
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $75- $750
$700 Bids
2x Dragon set chess game
Oct 07, 10:00 AM CEST
2x Dragon set chess game
by Twents Veilinghuis
Est: €0- €0
€400 Bids
2x South Africa chess games
Oct 07, 10:00 AM CEST
2x South Africa chess games
by Twents Veilinghuis
Est: €0- €0
€400 Bids
vintage schaakspel met bord
Oct 06, 7:00 PM CEST
vintage schaakspel met bord
by Veilinghuis Van Spengen
Est: €50- €75
€500 Bids
John Bell for Minton Group of Four Chess pieces, each 8.5cm
Oct 07, 10:00 AM BST
John Bell for Minton Group of Four Chess pieces, each 8.5cm
by Potteries Auctions
Est: £50- £100
£500 Bids
John Bell for Minton Chess pieces, smaller item with chip to base, height of tallest 8cm(2)
Oct 07, 10:00 AM BST
John Bell for Minton Chess pieces, smaller item with chip to base, height of tallest 8cm(2)
by Potteries Auctions
Est: £50- £100
£500 Bids
Two Vintage Stone & Horn Chess Sets, height of tallest 7.5cm
Oct 07, 10:00 AM BST
Two Vintage Stone & Horn Chess Sets, height of tallest 7.5cm
by Potteries Auctions
Est: £30- £60
£300 Bids
A Carved Bone Chess Piece
Oct 08, 1:00 PM EDT
A Carved Bone Chess Piece
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $45- $450
$450 Bids
A Carved Bone Chess Piece
Oct 08, 1:00 PM EDT
A Carved Bone Chess Piece
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $75- $750
$700 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chess Sets


Potteries Auctions

Potteries Auctions

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Louvre Antique Auction

Louvre Antique Auction

Twents Veilinghuis

Twents Veilinghuis