An amber chess board that King Charles I (1600-1649) supposedly took to his execution has sold at Sotheby's European Sculpture and Works of Art: Medieval to Modern auction, which took place on December 5.
The remarkable piece brought a final realisation of £601,250 ($970,600), selling 20.2% above its pre-sale estimate of £300,000-500,000. The price set a new auction record for an amber games board.
The board is believed to have been given to the king by his father King James I or his elder brother Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. The king was a huge fan of chess, and is said to have been deeply engrossed in a game when a messenger first informed him that he had been betrayed by the Scots, during the English civil war.
The king was subsequently executed by Oliver Cromwell's forces. It is recorded that he took two of his most prized possessions - a Bible and a chessboard - to the scaffold, with this believed to be the very same one.
Aside from its remarkable history, the piece is also a superb example of fine amber working. Just four comparable amber boards are known to exist, with this undoubtedly the finest example. It was made by Georg Scheiber, who had a reputation as "King of the Gamesboards".