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My strange obsession with chess collecting

My strange obsession with chess collecting

Aug 18, 2012, 6:29 PM 9

In 2002, chess nuts around the globe went agog when a chess piece dated circa 465 AD was discovered. For some it was the thrill of narrowing the history of the game that was appealing. Others may have just thought it was a pretty cool find. Whether the single king-like artifact is actually a chess piece or just and interesting miniature sculpture remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the beauty of the chess piece is a significant lure to the game. Oh to have such a piece in my collection!

I suppose I first thought of collecting chess sets in the 1980s when the Franklin Mint advertised the Civil War Chess Set. The concept of owning something that merged chess with American history intrigued me. For only $18 a month I could have my own authentic collectible chess set. Every other month I would receive two new chess pieces and the biography of the corresponding historical character. Wait a minute, I am no Sheldon Cooper but I can do the math. That's about $20 a chess piece times 32. $600 for a chess set? Oh well, you do get the board free! As appealing as the ads were I didn't bite. Flash forward one generation, and you can pick one of these sets up on Ebay for 100 bucks. So much for investing in collectibles.

 Franklin Mint Civil War Chess and Checker Set

My obsession started a few years back when I went on a semi-neurotic Ebay buying frenzy. My passion was, and still is, anything chess. I built a small collection of various games, books, and other novelties. I prefer the vintage sets such as the Ganine collection, Gallant Knight, and Drueke for example. I particularly like the miniature travel peg sets. I also built a decent collection of first-edition chess books.My stacks of chess stuff grew and after a while I had a small museum with no place to show.

My bride didn't understand my obsession but tolerated it anyway. One weekend she surprised me with two glass display cases. Yes! The dream was alive. I had horded so much stuff I couldn't fit everything into the displays, so I painfully selected the most prominent pieces. I arranged the sets and books to showcase my mini-museum. It looks pretty cool but now what? Perhaps I need to get more display cases. Or maybe I need to sell some stuff off on Ebay. Or maybe I'll just write a blog. I'm not an expert but I can share what I know. I'll dedicate future posts about specific sets or books, tying in a little history along the way.

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