Large, pretty, possibly handmade chess set - more details?
April 15, 2014 3:22 PM   Subscribe

Bought a large, possibly handmade chess set at a thrift store - can anyone give me more info about it?

This is a large (~36"x18") chess set box that holds the pieces. They are made of wood and painted. I've never seen anything quite like this before and was hoping someone had!

The style looks like Eastern European. It was found in a store in Pittsburgh, PA.

Was this made in the style of a specific nationality? Any ideas how old it may be? I don't see any tags or indicators on the box or pieces.


Outside of box
Pieces in the box
Some pieces
Other pieces
Inner box detail
More outside of box
posted by amicamentis to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I know that Poland is known for folding chess sets, though I can't say anything about the particular style of decoration.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:32 PM on April 15, 2014

The shape of the pieces looks a lot like a set I own from Krakow (also folding), so that backs up ocherdraco's hypothesis.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:44 PM on April 15, 2014

The decorative symbolism on some of the pieces includes Maltese a.k.a Cossack crosses, and swastikas. Would you find that on Polish chess sets, even pre-World War II?
posted by gudrun at 4:56 PM on April 15, 2014

I'd bet the manager at NYC's Chess Forum would know, if anyone does. Imad Khachan has lots of weird and beautiful chess sets in his store and might be able to offer some guidance.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:13 PM on April 15, 2014

Swastikas have been around for thousands of years. Also, the chess pieces seem to be left facing sauwastika, which is different that the one the Nazis corrupted.
posted by Jacen at 5:57 PM on April 15, 2014

Swastikas (or symbols that look like them) of various kinds are very old symbols in a variety of Eastern and Western and Native American cultures and have been in use for many many years. They also enjoyed a surge in popularity as decorative/luck symbols in the early 20th century in the U.S. among other places. This chess set is not ancient of course. People in the Western/European world dropped the use of swastika symbolism (either right or left facing) once the Nazis co-opted it. This implies the chess set either predates Nazism/World War II, or is not something from Europe. However, it most resembles things I have seen from Eastern Europe or Russia (though I'm not an expert). Hence the question of whether swastikas of any kind were in use at all in Poland prior to World War II. This wikipedia section talks a bit about swastika use in Poland pre-War.
posted by gudrun at 8:28 PM on April 15, 2014

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