Chess set marking famous Fischer-Spassky World Championship match to auction

Bonhams is the top name in many fields of collectibles, and nowhere is this more true than in the field of antique and classic chess sets.

This month is to be a particularly interesting example as a number of very rare and unusual items are to appear in the Chess Sets, Playing Cards and Games sale on September 14th, taking place in the Knightsbridge saleroom.

An unusual "Mary Chess" glass perfume bottle chess set is expected to sell for £2,000 - 3,000. During the 1930s Mary Chess became synonymous with fine women's perfume, and a series of popular scents were bottled in glass chess pieces.

Mary Chess perfume set
Fit for Royalty: a Mary Chess perfume set

Together with a full set of unopened scent bottles, a number of letters written to Mary Chess Ltd are also included in the sale.

The Queen Mother (mother of Queen Elizabeth II) owned a similar set and letters from her lady in waiting and financier thanking Mary Chess for the "magnificent chess set" along with a letter from the Queen of Sweden's lady in waiting thanking the company for the "useful and wonderful products" will all be offered with the scent bottles.

Spassky Fischer silver gilt chess set signed
The signed Spassky-Fischer silver gilt chess set

A further highlight of the sale is a rare "Spassky-Fischer" silver and silver-gilt chess set designed by the American Director Cy Enfield in 1972. Best known for his 1964 film "Zulu", starring Michael Caine, Endfield was commissioned to design set to commemorate the Chess World Championship of 1972 between Fischer and Spassky.

Estimated to sell for £2,000 - 3,000, the set is one of a rare limited edition of six and is also signed by Boris Spassky.

It will be interesting to see how this does as interest in the match, regarded as a small battle of the Cold War, is still strong. Earlier this year, a board used in the match and signed by both Fischer and Spassky sold for $76,275.

Estimated to sell for £10,000 - 15,000 an exceptional 17th century South German kingwood, oak, padouk, ebony and ivory inlaid games board will also be offered by Bonhams.

 The sale also includes a number of Jacques Staunton sets, which are avidly sought by collectors. The particular style of set was created in London in 1849 and soon became the standard, used around the world ever since.

A Staunton ivory chess set circa 1865-70 estimated at £3,000 - 5,000, a Staunton weighted boxwood and ebony chess set circa 1853-5 estimated at £2,000 - 3,000 and further ivory chess set circa 1855/65 estimated at £5,000 - 7,000 are of particular interest.


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