Veteranis Praesidii (The Old Guard); 32 weighted chessmen without board, wood, light brown v. dark brown, Soviet, circa 1930 – 1940
Height: King 8.5cm, weight 16g, base width 3.3cm, Queen 7.3cm 15g, Bishop 6.7cm 13g, Knight 7cm 16g, Rook 5cm16g, Pawn 5cm 12g
W: antiqued yellow felt bases B: same
You can literally feel the passage of time when handling these seldom seen, artistically restored chess pieces that originally circulated in the old Soviet Union during the reign of Alexander Alekhine, the testy Russian World Champion who died shortly after WWII.
The aloof ‘sneer’ of the knights is reminiscent of the sneer of the cocky Alekhine himself and the sturdy tapering barrels of the rooks, lodged on their robust Soviet bases also attract the eye instantly. The slender pawns possess long, elegant stems somewhat of a rarity in sets of this era, while the double-collared bishop’s are adorned with ‘acorn’ shaped mitres rather than the more traditional onion-shaped or domed themes.
When the set came to me the two sides were quite difficult to tell apart, especially when playing at night, so the white side has been lightened while keeping the original patina very much in mind. If anything, I believe I have elevated the original finish, evening out the patina which differed greatly between certain pieces.
The dark side has been layered heavily with various oil paints, varnishes, waxes and finishing oils, taking inspiration from various Soviet sets in the wonderful collections of Chuck Grau (USA) and Arlindo Vierra (Portugal).
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 felt bases.
Ref code: VP20
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