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"Selenus" Bone Set, mid 19th Century

"Selenus" Bone Set, mid 19th Century. King is 4" (10cm).

The Selenus design was named after Gustavus Selenus, a pseudonym of Augustus the Younger, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Gustavus is a creative anagram of Agustus. Selenus comes from Selene, Greek goddess of the moon, an obvious reference to Luneburg. In 1616, Augustus (Gustavus Selenus) published the first German chess book, Das Schach- oder Königsspiel.

In addition to chess instruction, this book contained excellent illustrations of contemporary chess pieces. German chess pieces at the time tended to be slender with stacked floral crowns. The pieces became taller, thinner and more elaborate as time went on. Their floral motif has led to their being known as Garden or Tulip sets. The Selenus pattern sets were manufactured in Central Europe until around 1914. The Selenus design is one of the most elegant of the classical chessmen in use before the standardization of chess pieces ushered in with the advent of the Staunton chessmen. The revolutionary Staunton design was registered by Nathaniel Cooke and launched, in September of 1849 by John Jaques of London.

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