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German Figural Chess Set, ca. 1920

An unusual figural folk art chess set with a king size of 8.2 cm. The pieces are carved from wood, one side predominantly in red, the other side predominantly in black.
The kings are depicted as wealthy citizens or aristocrats in a long coat with a double row of buttons and a tall top hat (somewhat reminiscent of kings in "Capitalist" themed chess sets). The queens wear a ball gown as well as a 1920s-style tiara on their heads. The bishops are depicted as German "Läufer", i.e. runners. They wear a long pointed cap sticking out backwards. The knights are depicted as horses' heads, diagonally shifted on an otherwise square base. The rooks are shown as high fortified towers with strongly pronounced battlement. The pawns are also depicted as running figures wearing a cap hanging down at one side.

The style of the bishops identifies this set as a German set. The carving style is reminding of hand carved toys from the Erzgebirge region in the South East of Germany.

Description and photos by Holger Langer.

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