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House of Staunton Imperial Collector 4.4 King and SIgnature Board Review

  • #1

    I just thought I would post up a review of my recent purchase from the House of Staunton.com as I looked up information before purchase and found there was mixed reviews from the House of Staunton and found it hard to decide if it was worth it or not.
    After a bit of research on the site I settled on the Imperial Collector Series with 4.4 inch king in boxwood and ebony and also to go along with these pieces I also purchased a signature luxury chessboard in bubinga and curly maple.
    Firstly the Chess Board was well priced it was already half price compared to other signature boards and because of their fathers day special it was another 20% off. I received the board 3 weeks later as and I am so glad I purchased this it is a beautiful piece of workmanship. It is made in America to order and it oozes luxury, it is one big board with 2.5 inch squares and with the border it takes it just over 65cm.
    I received the chess pieces two weeks after the chess board as had some problems with customs. I was worried that these pieces being so delicate would be damaged in transit as I am in Australia however house of Staunton do a good job at wrapping each piece individually. Im glad I bought the fitted coffer (not pictured but a great piece aswell)  for this reason just to give it more strength while travelling.
    I opened the Boxwood pieces and I am extremely happy with them, worth the wait! The knights of this series are just amazing, the downturned head and the detail of the face really sets this apart from other I looked at buying. The pieces feel great nicely weighted I never understood the use of green billard cloth on the bottom of luxury chess pieces. The king has leather it would make more sense to me if all pieces had a brown or light leather as the pads are so thick you can see them when looking across the board in play but this is not an issue just of House of Staunton sets.
    Then I opened the second tray that contained the ebony pieces. I was a bit worried about opening these as I had read past reviews of people buying from House of Staunton only to receive Ebony pieces that were streaked with brown noting a poorer quality of ebony wood.
    It is my experience with Ebony wood that the are graded from grade B being fairly streaked and brown to grade A which is black with light shades of brown through to AA and AAA which is complete black (AAA being very rare)
    I contacted House of Staunton regarding this issue and they assure me over time that ebony will darken to become jet black however I have had other non related chess items in ebony and this is not the case. I have sent through photos to them and am hoping the customer service from the website will be as good as I have read in reviews.
    Given the price of the set I was hoping to be completely satisfied and given the distance ot Australia I had contacted House of Staunton prior to buying to make sure my order would be checked and that ebony would looked at carefully to make sure it was dark and of good quality as I didnt want to deal with returning a set given the shipping costs
    So I am awaiting for their response tomorrow of how they plan to rectify this and I will post another review of the outcome and of the service recieved. I would more then highly recommend the chess board, even for those that dont play chess it is just an item of beauty to have in your house. The piece design is also beautiful there are small isssues like a spot on the boxwood knight and the tops of the rook have chisel marks in top but I am happy to live with that and gives the set character. Besides this ebony issue I would be a pretty happy little camper. Below are some pictures of my purchase I hope you like.
  • #2

    I wish you luck with customer service. It's my understanding there is a way to finish steaked ebony to make it black without staining, just by rubbing something clear into it, but these pieces are already finished so that's out. In general I think HOS is overpriced compared with buying directly from the manufacturers if what you want is this kind of Modern Indain stuff, but I guess the different will be with thier customer support if they will replace your pieces free of charge and then any damaged ones in the future as they promise. Let us know how it goes.

  • #3

    Beautiful, congratulations and I wish you health to enjoy this fine set. Cheers, John C.

  • #4

    Nice set.

    The king and queen are unacceptably streaked, however.

    I'd hesitate before giving hos much money. It didn't used to be that way.

  • #5

    Okay just to update my review if anyone is considering buying from HOS.

    I contacted them obviously about my ebony pieces as you can see from above photos they are streaked and look really awful, out of the set I have one piece (the rook) that looks good and well coloured, the rest is questionable, the queens and king are the worst affected and actually in person look like they belong to a different set. 

    HOS were happy to replace the pieces but I would have to pay for shipping to return entire black army. Kind of annoying when I paid alot for a luxury set and had emailed them a few times making sure they double checked the ebony pieces before they were sent as I knew they distance they were travelling. I had to really complain to them in the end as they kept referring me to wood being unpredictable and that if I loved wood set I would love the different patterns and streaks etc. To the point it was really annoying, I know what wood is like and I bought wood set for this reason of being unique, but the pieces I got were way off. I mean there emails got to the point of being out right rude and treating me like a complete moron.

    I contacted HOS again as I felt this was a bit of a rip off for what is their mistake, and they apologized and said I could have a $50 voucher, which was nice of course but I dont want a voucher from a website I havent received a decent product from yet.

    I said would they at least replace the 3 worst affected pieces (2 queens and the 1 king) free of charge (not an unfair request considering they probably purchase these pieces from India for a few bucks a piece). I felt it would make more sense to send out the pieces immediatley but HOS wanted me to send the pieces to them for them to assess them and then if they deemed appropriate they would send me new pieces at MY cost for shipping.

    In the end I talked them into sending me the 2 queens and 1 king via shipping that I paid for and have since been waiting for replacement pieces. I contacted them last week and they told me that the pieces had just gone through final inspection and would leave the factory asap. That being over a month and a half of "final inspection" I think more to the point they forgot or lost the return slip.

    So I am waiting for my pieces and HOS have said if im not happy with those pieces they will have nothing more to do with the issue.

    Not the service I expected from a website with such a good reputation. HOS have some nice looking sets online, but the real quality is disappointing,. Unfortunatley there isnt many other websites out there so I guess they get business regardless. I will not be shopping there again, if you dont stand by your product its a sign of a bad business.

    Will post again once I recieve my pieces I wish anyone shopping here luck in receiving a good quality set.

  • #6

    I've seen the 4.4 Imperials being sold on Ebay by HOS so I have a feeling that they got a bad batch in from India.  Pity that their standards have dropped and that customer service is not what it once was.  Even with the streaking however that is a magnificent set and I'm sure that like all HOS sets the pictures don't do it justice.

  • #7

    I read that HOS Frank Cameretta has retired so maybe the standards slipped some? Its almost impossible to get pure solid Ebony nowdays without paying outrages prices. I do have a BK set with pretty good Ebony pieces I bought in the 70s/80s. Nowhere streaked like yours.

  • #8

    Hi it would be bettxer if they provided all streaked or true black it's funny because I called about this very issue they claimed they inspect sets that cost 500+ its obvious yours did not. You should get beautiful craftsmanship for that money. I have been looking at their Fisher Spassky limited edition. I just bought a 30s jaques set and yes not perfect but beautiful English craftmanship patina. In their small club size weighs 5 lbs comes in a solid mahogany box I even got the key. King is a true 1 7/8 wide by 4 plus height.

    Your set is lovely Wish you the best on getting what you want.

  • #9

    That excessive brown streaking makes the king and queen almost look more like dark sheesham than ebony.

    Judging from this review, as well as another one here, it sadly looks like at this point you can only seek a guarantee to be able to purchase the quality you are promised and expecting by personally traveling to the vendor's store/warehouse and inspecting the items thoroughly before making the actual purchase (which obviously might significantly raise the costs, depending on the relative distance).

  • #10

    Hi all,


    Just a last update on what was becoming a bit of a chess saga. I received my replacement pieces and they are black as black not one bit of streak (as in too good to be true) they are quite obviously ebonized boxwood. The reason I know this is because the pieces I received were quite small so I compared them to boxwood white army and realized that the king replacement and queens in "ebony" were over 1cm smaller then them. So I know have a black army with 2 queens and a king significantly smaller then my white army haha I just cant get over how bad HOS service is and there product. I asked them why these pieces I received were smaller and they said as each set is unique they will vary in size??? Not good enough if I buy a chess set with a 4.4inch king I expect that king to be 4.4inches!

    No luck with further replacements I have just decided to live with the streaked pieces I have and just learn from the experience and tell others that HOS may have nice sets in photos on their website but good luck with the sent out product.

  • #11

    Sorry didnt finish my point, the reason I know they sent me out ebonized wood pieces instead of ebony is I cut into one of the queens to realise it was like a boxwood or cheaper lighter wood under.

    I urge people dont waste your money at this place for chess pieces. But the chess board I got is brilliant beautiful craftmanship and made in America, better quality control HOS, you get your stuff from India because its cheap and that is no problem most chess pieces are made in countries like this, but put some money into the quality control process by investing money in checking orders before sending especially for those that are paying premium dollars for a luxury set

  • #12

    The money you paid for that set You should have got real Ebony without streaks in the pieces! Chess USA would have made it right for free. Real Ebony weighs more than the corosponding white pieces. I thought one set was ebonized but, after put on a scale I found out it was ebony.

  • #13

    Please don't take this as an insult but a 4.4 inch King is over the top IMO. Also, the board does not really look that great either to me at least. I have a veneer board for 80 bucks that looks better than your high price board IMO.

  • #14

    Looks like you been had by the House Of Staunton. Sorry about your problems with them.

  • #15

    Terrible experience, but I must say the board is very nice. Love the white squares!

  • #16

    nice board. what a shitty story. terrible. 

  • #17

    I actually work at the HOS. I recall this very situation, even though I didn't deal with it directly, as I view all of the emails that come through. I can say that you were absolutely not sent Ebonized boxwood pieces as replacements. You were sent the blackest set of Ebony pieces that we could find. We do regret that you were unsatisfied with your set, as we receive nearly universally glowing comments on the Imperial sets. We have had very few complaints or returns of these pieces in all the years we have sold them.

  • #18

    We have no way of knowing  who is right, so if Ausgamer comes back perhaps he could post a picture of the piece he said he cut into revealing boxwood underneath. However, he hasn't been here for a while, so I won't hold my breath.

  • #19

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