Many people only dream of having ivory chess sets in their homes. These pieces are costly owing to the fact that the laws around them are quite stringent. It is safe to say that Ivory chess sets are only a reserve for the high and mighty—people who aren’t afraid of digging deep into their pockets to add luxury to their lives.
Chess sets have come a long way. Chess as a game dates back to 760 AD when some of the earliest pieces were discovered at Afrasaib, an area adjacent to Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Some of the ivory chess pieces found included a king, vizier, chariot, 2 soldiers, elephant, and horse. Around the beginning of the 10th century, the popular pieces of Saint Genadio, also called the Mozarab ivory chess pieces, were found and preserved in the Spanish Mozarabic Monastary.
In 1831, the infamous Isle of Lewis pieces that are presently preserved in the national museum of Antiques, Edinburgh and British Museum were discovered. The Isle of Lewis features the oldest Ecclesiastical Bishop. The chess pieces, found by a local Scottish peasant by the name CalumnanSprot, were made of walrus tusk.
Many centuries later, ivory chess sets are now some of the most-prized antiquities. Thanks to the CITES agreement enacted in 1963, mammoth ivory is the only permitted brand in the market after the ban on elephant ivory. The demand is higher now more than ever especially in China and India.
1. The Mammoth Collector Luxurious Chess Set — 4.4″ King
Made from genuine mammoth ivory harvested deep in the Siberian landscape, this is among the most prized ivory chess sets in the market. This is certainly one of those products where the price tag matches its quality in every way. It has a total of 34 chessmen, all carefully hand-crafted to perfection. It features two striking colors; ivory on the white Army’s side and a black liqueur paint on the Black Army’s side. The contrast between the two colors enhance the glamor and look of the chess set even more. This, coupled with the set’s natural feel, sets it apart from any other material in the market.
The Ivory Collector Series has an exceptional natural weight that auto-balances without the need of any artificial weighing system. It gives it an excellent feel that offers the user a good experience on the hands when moving the pieces during a chess game.
For protection of your luxurious chess pieces, the set comes complete with a unique coffered chess box. The box is lined with compartments enough to store each individual piece when not in use. After spending a fortune purchasing the set, who wouldn’t want to keep it safe and prolong its lifespan?
The other selling point of this ivory set is that it is made on a bespoke basis, which implies that when you place an order, it is custom-made for you. Once you give out your specifications, it is crafted then dispatched to you. You can rest assured that you won’t run into the same design at the house party down the street.
The set also comes with an authenticity certificate to prove to you that it is made from legit mammoth ivory and not any of its counterparts. Additionally, the set has an individual number and registered plaque for the same purpose. Please note that the set doesn’t come with a chess board although you can have one added at a small fee.back to menu ↑
2. Mammoth Genuine Ebony Luxurious Chess Set 4-4 King
The Ivory and Genuine Ivory Set has also been made from genuine and legitimate ivory obtained from the mammoth remains entrenched deep in the Siberian landscape. However, unlike the former, this one is more affordable. This because it is made by combining ivory and ebony wood unlike the former which only uses ivory.
The full club-sized set comes with all the necessary documentation that provides solid proof that it is made from authentic woolly mammoth ivory. These include an engraved registered plaque, certificate of authenticity, and an individual production number. It is highly recommended that buyers don’t purchase ivory sets without these things.
This luxurious ivory set has 34 chessmen including the 2-diameter sized King with a height of 4.4 inches and 4 queens. The chess pieces are crafted by the finest artisans using ivory and ebony. Each of the pieces is intricately modelled and skillfully carved to an impeccable finish. The White’s army is obviously made from authentic mammoth ivory while the Black’s army is made from ebony wood. Don’t be shocked if people around you don’t tell the difference between the opposing armies; they look almost similar.back to menu ↑
Some Ivory Facts
Ivory is a white material that is typically derived from animal tusks (mostly elephants or the extinct mammoth) and sometimes teeth of some species like the whales. Although ivory from elephants has been banned around the globe, trading in other forms of ivory is still allowed. For instance, ivory from mammoths can be traded as antique items.
Before plastics were invented, ivory was widely used for its ornamental purposes. Its characteristic white color is what made it popular. It was traditionally used to make billiard balls, piano keys, cutlery handles, buttons, and Scottish bagpipes among other items.
Initially, dead elephants served as the sole source of ivory. This changed when poachers resorted to killing elephants for their tusks. For instance, acquiring 40 tons of ivory would require the killing of 700 elephants. This is primarily what led to the ban of the ivory trade. Countries and states weren’t the only parties involved in ban; businesses followed suit soon after. For instance, eBay banned the sale of any elephant-ivory products in the year 2007.
Mammoth ivory is used to make handcrafted items like ivory chess boards/sets and other household items. Because mammoths have been extinct for millennia, their ivory is extremely rare and therefore quite pricey.back to menu ↑
Ivory Chess Set Facts and Benefits
Ivory chess sets are unique and quite in high demand. However, due to the problem of elephant poaching, most countries have now made any ivory trade illegal. But that does not mean that you cannot make money from ivory sets. Years ago, it was perfectly legal to buy and sell ivory sets, so if you have an antique set, you can sell it at a premium. Chess enthusiasts and collectors are always on the lookout for a unique piece.
The closest traditional alternative of ivory chess boards/sets are the classic ebony wood chess sets. These chess sets used natural wood tones for the white sides of the sets although they were not truly white. If you want the natural and authentic chess sets, go for the real ivory ones.
Because antique ivory chess sets have such a huge demand, some unscrupulous businessmen will try to sell you fake sets. Bones and plastics have been used to try to imitate the chess sets, so you need to do some due to diligence to avoid being duped. Determining if your chess sets are genuine ivory can be a challenge and it is best to contact an expert for help with authentication.
Like most collectibles, valuation of an ivory chess set is not as straightforward as it sounds. Usually, the older the set is, the more valuable it is. But age is not the only factor. Even though most ivory sets are made from mammoth tusks, there are lots of other options that would make the price of the set go higher or lower. For instance, some sets are made from whale teeth, a fact that increases the price tag on them. Another pricing factor is the detailing of the pieces. Most pieces are either hand-crafted or hand painted; something that makes their prices spiral to the thousands of dollars.back to menu ↑
Isle of Lewis Chess Set Brands
The Isle of Lewis Chess sets have become iconic legends and are some of the most famous pieces ever made. These Chessmen are thought to have originated from Norway although they remained undiscovered for centuries. In 1831, the first pieces were discovered on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. Some critics have postulated that the pieces were probably meant for another board game. This notwithstanding, the chess community has accepted the Lewis chess pieces. The original pieces have been preserved for everyone to see in the Museum in the United Kingdom. However, there are lots of replicas that are available for purchase on Amazon, eBay, and other online stores.
Want to take a trip down memory lane into the 12thcentury? Consider purchasing the Isle of Lewis Chess sets made from Walrus ivory. With this unique chess set containing 78 intricate chessmen, all with sculptures of human features, you are poised to have the greatest chess experience of your life. Enjoy the creativity around the set like the standing soldiers, knights mounted on horses and wide-eyed, infuriated berserkers that are busy biting their lips.
Ivory chess sets may be pricey but they are worth every penny. If you want style and luxury, go for the Ivory Collector Luxury series but if you want to spend a little but get the feel of having an ivory chess set, purchase the Ivory and Ebony Collector series instead.