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Barleycorn chess sets appreciation: a Tribute

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EfimLG47

@piet_pasman, wonderful post! Thanks for starting this thread. It is always good to see something different for a change.

Barleycorn chess sets were a very popular type in the first half of the 19th century, which is why I have dedicated an entire chapter on them in my book "On the Collecting of Chess Sets". They continued to be used even after the introduction of the Staunton design in 1849 although their popularity declined towards the end of the 19th century. Morphy was shown with Barleycorn pieces and there is an interesting engraving from “The Illustrated London News” of July 14, 1855 (i.e. after the introduction of the Staunton design) with prominent participants of an event of the Leamington Chess Club (including Falkbeer and Staunton, in the center of the engraving). 

Before they made it into movies, Barleycorn type pieces were featured in various artwork. Here are some examples.

Julian Ashton, The Chess Game

Julian Ashton, The Chess Game

Louis Charles Moeller, The Chess Game

Daniel Garber, Mother and Son (1933)

 

EfimLG47

I do have a variety of Barleycorn chess sets in my collection. Here are some of them.

And also some German "Barleycorn" sets...

 

Powderdigit
Beautiful sets and beautiful art! The paintings by Ashton, Moeller and Gerber are wonderfully expressive. I especially love Mother and Son… fantastic light. Thanks for an interesting thread Piet.👍
IpswichMatt

That’s a coincidence- I’ve just put a set on eBay that is a bit like one of Efim’s sets, see

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/165545381375?hash=item268b460dff:g:-DUAAOSwKrNitHyq

IpswichMatt
Hmm. My link doesn’t work, and I seem to have lost the ability to edit or delete my last post. Oh well, I’ll fix it tomorrow
JustBeatsy

Gosh, that brings back pleasant memories.

Many years ago (35?) I found a small Barleycorn set at a car boot sale "oop North" (no pics, sorry, but it was very similar to this one, albeit with less decoration on the royalty). Red and white, all pieces present, in a slide top box, king about 2 1/2 inches - maybe a smidge more. One bishop had lost half the mitre, but everything else was perfect. It looked like ivory, but I was never really sure if it was bone instead. There were a tiny hints of grain on a couple of the white pieces but that could have been dried ivory cracks too. Anyway, I held it up and asked the seller how much. "Oh, it's only plastic", he said, "how about 50p?".

You have never seen a coin procured so quickly!!!

I didn't ever use it and only bought it because I knew what it was and enjoyed bagging bargains on all manner of unusual things. Back when car boots were really good and you could find amazing stuff for pennies. I eventually gifted it to a lovely old chap (and occasional drinking buddy) who collected *really* nice decorative sets but didn't have that type. He thanked me by calling me a stupid fool for just giving it away! Curmudgeonly old duffer, he was. We got along like a house on fire... happy.png 

Thanks for posting. I've come over all reminiscent now.

Powderdigit
Great story Beatsy. Made me smile this Sunday morn. 👍
magictwanger

It's a superb looking set! I'd love to own one,liking  a variety of different looking aesthetics in my collection,but would only keep it for show.

IpswichMatt

Shameless plug for my bone set on eBay...

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/165545381375?hash=item268b460dff:g:-DUAAOSwKrNitHyq

magictwanger

Nothing shameless imo.....Selling requires exposure.

Good luck

IpswichMatt

Thanks magictwanger....now bid!

magictwanger

Can't! The wife says I'm done spending money,since just buying a few pricey astronomy binoculars.....I also have 19 chess sets....22 if you count travel size.

Divorce is a lot more expensive than any new sets.....Can't take the chance.surprise

IpswichMatt
So you’re putting your marriage ahead of my profit? Hope I get some more bids soon, looks like I might be giving this set away 😭
IpswichMatt
Thanks! It came with a Jaques set I bought at auction a few years ago