Jaques of London

Established 1795

The game of chess has a history that spans over 1500 years. Chessmen appear in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but with the increased popularity of international chess tournaments during the early 19th century there was a demand for chessmen that were universally recognized by players of diverse backgrounds. In 1849 sport and games manufacturer John Jaques of London and his brother-in-law Nathaniel Cook came up with the solution: the Staunton chessmen.

Named after, and endorsed by grandmaster Howard Staunton (1810–1874), at the time considered the strongest player in the world, this may well have been the first time that a celebrity was used to promote a commercial product. The ebony and boxwood chessmen were weighted with lead to add stability, and the underside of each piece was covered with felt, making them not only aesthetically appealing but also a joy to play with. The Staunton style soon became the standard on which most tournament chessmen have been made, and in 1924 it was selected by Fide as the choice of set for all future international chess tournaments.

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© Jaques of London, Edenbridge, UK

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