Nobilium Italia (Italian Nobles); 32 alabaster chess figurines without board, white v. green, Florence, Italy, circa 1950-1960.
King height; 9.2cm, weight 63g, base diameter 3.5cm; Queen 9.5cm weight 62g, bd 3.5cm; Bishop 8.3cm, Knight 8cm, Rook 7.8cm, Pawns 6m. W: antiqued green felt pads, B: same
A set with many quirks. The pieces differ just slightly, which first attracted me to the set. For instance, the Bishop’s caps and hand positions vary. Also, the dark knights have open and closed muzzles, very unusual for this period.
The royals, or hierarchy, aren’t familiar (to me, at least) with any period in Italian history. What they do resemble is the ‘Jue de cartes’ or the popular French playing cards that bumped shoulders with chess for popularity in the courts of Europe from the 16th century on. The King especially resembles the King of Clubs in the French decks (Modelled after Alexander the Great) and the Bishop, or Knave, carries a sword, not the usual go-to of Italian men-of-the-cloth.
This is an uncommon and unusual set and feels as good as it looks. The set is in near perfect condition, however, two pawns have slight chips to their collars which I have melded into the overall look of the set. Battle-scars – let’s move on.
The pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display as well as casual play. Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent silver ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases.
Ref code NI20