Blood Brothers (Sanguine Fratres); 32 naturally weighted chessmen without board, wood, Czechoslovakian, artistically restored, white v. brown with cadmium highlights, c.1960.
Height: King 9.7cm, weight 13g, base diameter 3.1cm (all bases); Queen 8.8cm, wt 13g; Bishop 6.4cm 9g, Knight 6cm 10g, Rook 5cm 15g, Pawns 4.5cm 8g
W: crimson red felt bases; B: same
A steadfast, traditional Czechoslovakian pattern that dates back to the last few decades of the nineteenth century, the brain-child of the patriotic Czech sculptor, Bohuslav Schnirch (1845-1901)*. These distinct designs first appeared in the smoke-laden, gentleman’s gaming rooms such as the Cafe Slavia and the Cafe Union of the old Habsburg Empire (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) back in the late 1880’s and have close and obvious links to the well-known Austrian/Hungarian/German ‘Coffeehouse’ patterns – their blood brothers, one might say.
As you may have guessed, I’ve had some fun with Schnirch’s original pattern; originally the royals had opposite coloured finials and the bishops, too, had opposing coloured domes. After making sure the ill-fitting finials fit snuggly I decided to experiment with a few different combinations and settled on this more traditional, less busy arrangement that may appeal to those who oppose the opposing colour idea (the original set-up can be seen on the ‘Ceska Klubkovka’ website @ www.sachy.csla.cz – scroll down towards the bottom). You’ll notice that this set seems more ‘Austrian’ than most of the other ‘Klubkovka’ sets on the site, in particular the barrel-chested rooks are a lot less ‘Stauntonesque’ than the norm and the knights too are heavier about the jaw – two unusual features that appealed to me greatly.
The dark side was originally painted black which has been thoroughly stripped down, reworked and matched to the original honey-gold patina of the light side (with a few minor and ‘invisible’ fixes here and there). All red highlights are my own and are complimented intentionally by the crimson felt bases. The king’s signifier and finial (originally of opposite colours and detachable) have been melded into one seamless crown. One missing black bishop finial has been replaced and matched.
There are no major ‘battle-scars’ on this set. The claret highlights however convey a sense of battle-hardy warriors, wounded, perhaps, but still eager for the fray!
Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent bronze ‘Power’ signature of the artist on their bases and are UV resistant and ideal for display as well as casual play. The set also comes with a ‘Certificate of Artistry’ which are posted out separately once we tally up how many ‘Bronze Signature’ sets passed through our galleries in 2021.
… “All good things …” as the saying goes.
*This gentleman was the first president and founder of the “Cesky Spole Sachorni” (Czech Chess Club) established in 1884.
Ref code SF21