Jokers Wild! (Farceurs Enragé!); 32 solid plastic figural chessmen without board, French, hand-painted, silver v. bronze, weighted, c.1970
Height: King 7.3cm, weight 20g, base width 2.7cm; Queen 7cm, wt 18g, Fou 6cm 15g, Knight 6cm 15g, Rook 5cm 17g, Pawns 4.5cm 10g
W: black felt pads, B: same
The Fou, or Fool (the French nomenclature for our ‘Bishop’) steals the show in this medieval themed chess set. Not just because of his comedic pose and macabre marotte, but because it’s quite rare to find the figure of a court jester representing the bishop – even amongst decorative French chess sets.
What first caught my eye (and hopefully yours too!) was the intricate detailing work on all of the pieces. There is a very subtle ‘chequer’ motive running through the set, the most obvious being the king’s shield, but the Queen’s cloak and headwear also carry the theme, as does the base of the knight, the shields of the pawns and the jester’s costume – something that easily escaped notice on the original, unimaginatively presented black and white pieces.
The ornamental detail work on the king’s armour is nothing short of stunning and was an absolute joy to bring to life. Whoever the anonymous French designer of this set was they certainly had a great understanding of ceremonial dress armour and medieval court attire in general, that’s for sure.
Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent bronze ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases and are ideal for display as well as casual play. Jokers Wild is also accompanied by a ‘Certificate of Artistry’ which will be 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.
Etsy Set Price: $850.00
thechessschach.com Set Price: $750.00
Ref code: FE21
Visit our Gallery for more artistically restored vintage chess sets.