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If it was not for the Staunton pieces that John Jaques designed Chess would not be the household Game it is today

Chess History.
Jaques made the popularization of Chess possible by creating a set of Chessmen that would create Chess History and could be reproduced easily and at a reasonable cost.
This means that Jaques of London had a hand in creating the worlds second most popular game - Chess.

Even today Jaques finest ebony and boxwood chess sets bear the crown symbol on the Kings Knight and Rook, and stamped Jaques London on the base of the King.

It was in 1839 when John Jaques recognized the need for what no other turner had achieved before him – a classic yet simple design in Chessmen. Until that time the only Chessmen available to the public were either hand-carved, excessively elaborate or often very expensive or rudely turned, daubed pieces in which rank was indicated by height alone.

Pictured above is a shot of an early 20th century ivory Jaques Staunton Chess Piece.

"But the greatest and most significant improvement is observable in the knight," commented the Morning Herald on 6th November, 1849. The article continued: "The crude, ugly and ill-cut caricature now in use is supplanted by an exquisite draft of the head of the Greek horse executed after the Elgin marbles...They may be viewed and judged as works of art, and as such challenge scrutiny; while the beauty of the manufacture is indicative of the high perfection to which ivory carving and the niceties of ivory turning have been brought in this country."

It was Nathaniel Cooke, proprietor of the Illustrated London News whose daughter later married John Jaques II, who helped originate these new designs. He brought them to John Jaques, and together they further developed the designs so that each piece was simplified and could be reproduced with ease. The king was symbolized by a crown, the queen by a coronet, the bishop by a miter, and so forth.

The Times was no less effusive: "A set of Chessmen, of a pattern combining elegance and solidity to a degree hitherto unknown". In fact, Mr Howard Staunton, one of the famous exponents of the English school of Chess, was so struck by the clarification achieved by these designs that he allowed his name and signature to authenticate every box of pieces.

the ABC of Chess, a piece of chess set history An original copy of The Rules of Chess by Jaques from 1918

The Staunton Chessmen soon became the standard design not just in England, but also in Europe. Today, a version of the John Jaques Staunton Chess set is supplied to nearly all the world’s National Chess Associations, and used in virtual exclusivity for all international tournaments. It’s what the legendary Bobby Fischer checkmates with, as well as all the current world champion contenders, from Adams to Anand, Gelfand to Guiko, Ivanchuk to Lautier, Karpov to Kasparov, Kramnik to Kamsky, Spassky to Short.

Discover more about the Jaques family history and the history of chess. Jaques - since 1795. Click Here

Learn more about the History of chess at

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