Primo Rusae (The First Russians); 32 “Kievan Rus” hand-painted figural chess pieces with native folding board, lightly weighted, Soviet Ukraine, ivory vs red, hard plastic, artistically reimagined, antiqued, c.1968-1980.
King Height: 8.5cm, weight 12g, base width 2.3cm; Queen 8.3cm wt. 10g, Bishop 8.2cm 8g, Knight 8cm 7g, Rook 7.5cm 8g, Pawns 7cm 10g.
W: black felt pads, B: same
Folding board dimensions; 40cm x 40cm, square size 4.5cm. Black and off-white plastic. Very solid with ‘knight’ shaped clasps. Blue Velvet interior with the oval stamp “Kiev Plastics” in the centre. The board is not original to the set, but most probably originates from the same well-known Soviet manufactory as the chess pieces.
Board and pieces total weight: 1.4kg
It was the intricate detailing of these figural chess pieces that first attracted my eye, unfortunately, this craftsmanship seemed lost on the original solid white vs red set-up. I decided to stay true to the original colour-scheme, but showcase the unique, swirling motifs with an antiqued ivory finish for the light side and a worn, cochineal red for the dark side. The latter being achieved using dyes and lacquers that were hand-rubbed onto the surface, antiqued, and then hand-aged again until a smooth, well-used faux-finish was ultimately achieved.
All traces of the original plastic cast-seams have been meticulously removed and weight has been added for a very pleasant, bottom-heavy feel. The bases of the light side have a lightly textured, antiqued gold finish. The dark pieces an antiqued bronze finish. The signifiers are finished using a combination of waxes, matt and semi-lustre varnishes and antiquing oils that lend an overall sense of handling an antique bone set rather than a vintage plastic one!
The set is called “Kievan Rus” by chess-dealers in Russia and Ukraine. This is a reference to the first Varangian invaders/conquerors of Old Russia or Rus, who settled in the ancient city of Veliky Novgorod (lit. ‘Great New Castle’) built by the founder of the Rurik Dynasty, Ryurik the Great (died 879), whose ancestors ruled Kievan Rus and Tsarist Russia until the early 1600s. Do your googles for more info on Rurik!
One change (or ‘improvement,’ as I call it) has been made to the original design. The four bishops had shields mounted on their left shoulder, which have been removed. These toy-like additions were badly attached (in my opinion), superfluous, and unbalanced the natural symmetry of the statesmanly piece (and the back-line) in general. As the old saying goes, ‘Everyone is entitled to my opinion.’
Both kings carry the NEW hand-painted 2023 IRIDESCENT PEARL ‘Power’ signature of the artist on their bases and are accompanied by our unique ‘Certificate of Artistry’ which are posted out separately, once we tally up how many pearl signature sets passed through our galleries in 2023.
Etsy Set Price: $650.00
thechessschach.com Set Price: $550.00 CN
Ref Code: PR23