Legendary Souvenir Chess Piece from 1897 to be Offered at Christie's South Kensington
|A leading highlight from the collection is a very rare souvenir chess piece. Estimate: £4,000-6,000. |
Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.
Arranged by John Henniker Heaton, a British Conservative MP, and U.S. Representative Richmond Pearson of North Carolina, this is believed to have been the only match played between the two governments of the UK and US. The matches were arranged as a fun pastime, but the players took them very seriously, with the Representatives documented as having received professional coaching beforehand. Cable matches were arranged soon after cable transmissions became available, the only drawback being the high cost for transmitting the messages.
The game of chess is documented to have been introduced to the ‘smoke-room’ at the House of Commons in the late 1880s, and was allegedly a very popular pastime for members. Several articles published at the time refer to a chess club, a petition for better chess boards and tables in the House, as well as lamenting the loss of the best chess players, due to members losing their seats during elections.
A number of the sets and boards on offer in the Collection featured in the famed exhibition catalogue “Schachpartie Durch Zeiten und Welten”, by Hans and Barbara Holländer. The catalogue documented the largest and most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to chess sets and related items ever staged, which was to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Hamburger Schachklub – the oldest and largest chess club in Germany, established in 1830. For chess collectors around the world, the chance to acquire items which appeared in this book is a very rare and special opportunity, and one not to be missed.