Régence de la Habsburg; 32 lightly-weighted Regency style chess pieces, wood, weighted, white vs. black, artistically reimagined, antiqued, prob. German, c.1930s
Height: King 90mm, weight 25g, base width 28mm; Queen 78mm wt. 17g; Bishop 60mm 8g, Knight 70mm 9g, Rook 48mm 9g, Pawns 48mm 6g.
W: antiqued soft beige felt bases; B: same
A splendid antiqued example of the French ‘Regency’ style of chessmen, named after the famous Café de la Régence of Paris that served as a hub for chess players from the early 1700s until its gradual demise in the mid-1800s. In these smoke-laden gaming rooms now-legendary names in the annals of chess history bumped elbows with the most influential and powerful figures of the day, names that included the great French champions, de la Bourdonnais, Andre Philidor and Saint-Amant, the infamous Englishman, Howard Staunton and the immortal American, Paul Morphy, not to mention the likes of Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Robespierre and Napoleon, to mention but a few.
The cream of German chess collectors, Holger Langer, posted a succinct description of the ‘Café’ on his informative facebook site, ‘Holger’s Antique Chess Collection’ and I quote:
“The Café de la Régence was the center of chess in ancient Paris. The café was founded in 1681 as one of the first coffee houses in Paris under the name Café de la Place du Palais-Royal. It was located between the Rue Saint-Honoré and the Place du Palais-Royal. It was renamed Café de la Régence in 1715 at the earliest, as the new name referred to the era of the regency (La Régence), which lasted from 1715 to 1723, when the Duke of Orléans ruled over the young king Louis XV, who was still a minor.”
For a full (and updated) description of this old coffee-house set refer to Holger Langer’s new book, ON THE COLLECTING OF CHESS SETS (Chapter 1, pp. 24-34),also available through our Galleries.
This set came to me from Austria with an extremely plain finish on both sides. The dark side had simply been stained black, the light pieces looked untouched, like they had jumped straight off the lathe. However, the pieces had certainly seen some action as you can see by a few ‘battle-scars’ here and there. The major ones, on the dome of the queen and base of one dark knight, I decided to roll with as I believe they added character to the set. Also, you may have noticed the kings have a slight lean, quite common with these patterns, due to the wood not being sufficiently dried before turning. Again, I don’t mind this at all as it gives the royals a certain elderly charm.
The finish itself is matched to an old Austrian Biedermeier set I have in my reference collection which dates to the 1830s. I wanted to recapture the essence of an old coffee-house, or kaffeehaus, set of this era that show up in collections today; worn, slightly abused, but reeking of history and battles past. Weight has also been added to all the pieces bar the kings, which are naturally weighted. The remaining pieces were matched accordingly to His Nibs giving the set a very pleasant feel over the board.
The 1mm antiqued felt pads also give the set a sense of age rounding out the old Kaffeehäus look perfectly.
Lastly, during the ‘reimagining’ process I decided to adopt opposite coloured bishops domes as seen in most of the old Austro-Hungarian sets of the old Habsburg Empire. It just seemed the natural thing to do and differentiates the bishops from the the similarly designed pawns quite effectively – hence my playful appellation for the set which combines the French cafes with the Kaffeehäusers of Austria, Hungary and Germany. A perfect combination, you might say.
Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent copper 2022 ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases and are accompanied by one of our unique Certificates of Authenticity. See the Jan. 2022 chessay for more info on this.
Etsy Set Price: $750.00
thechessschach.com Set Price: $650.00
Ref Code: RH22