They’re commonly regarded as the gold standard in the manufacture of chess equipment. Their sets have been featured on every movie/TV show with a chess scene. The House of Staunton (or just HOS for chess lovers) have acquired a larger-than-life reputation, but how good are they, really? Well, that’s what this House of Staunton review seeks to find out.
The Golden Collector Series Luxury Wood Chess Set
If you thought that chess sets can’t be art, think again. The Golden Collector Series Luxury Chess Set from HOS features a design so exquisite that it could make a rock shed a tear. No, seriously — it’s not unheard of for non-chess players to buy it for its elegance.
Naturally, the set draws most of its appeal from the chess pieces; all are crafted from ebony and boxwood. The board itself employs a combination of maple woods and red amboyna burl. This is perfectly complemented by the ebony framing and maple inlays. Size-wise, the squares measure 2.25 inches in length, with the king standing 4.4 inches tall.
It is worth highlighting that the components are as durable as they are good-looking. In particular, the manufacturer utilizes a proprietary weighting technique to make the pieces fracture-resistant. As if that isn’t enough, each of them has an individual padded bay in the chess box.
-Durable, stylish chess pieces and board
-Comes with a lifetime guarantee
-Price: The Golden Collector Series Chess costs a mind-blowing $6295.
The Camaratta Signature Series Cooke Luxury Chess Set
The first thing you notice upon laying your eyes on the Camaratta Signature Series Cooke Luxury Chess Set is the impeccable craftsmanship. The board features a combination of Bird’s Eye Maple and African Palisander for the light & dark squares respectively. This results in an exquisitely checkered pattern that’s then raised off the palisander framing.
The HOS have also done a fantastic job when it comes to the pieces. Black’s army are carved out of Bocote; this is a brown wood variety with a stream of dark grains running through its length. The Whites, on the other hand, are made of boxwood with a rich, creamy tone. The Knights are carved in such a way that manes and facial features stand out, literally.
As for the numbers, the board measures 22.5 inches in length and has 2.25-inch squares. HOS claim that the king stands 3.625 inches tall. With a price tag of $2,895, this is their second most expensive set.
That has obviously disappointed lots of chess enthusiasts. It’s hard to justify forking out 3 grand for a set when you could get one for a tenth of the amount. If you want something with a generous touch of class, however, the Camaratta Signature Series Cooke Luxury Chess Set won’t disappoint. It is as pleasurable to play on as it is to look at.
The Savano Series Luxury Wood Chess Set
Maybe you’re the type of player who likes having uniquely-crafted chess pieces. The kind who’ll go to any lengths to get a set that is unlike any other. You will definitely fall in love with the Savano Series Luxury Chess Set.
For just $1399, the House of Staunton will let you pick from an array of wood options for the pieces. If you want a traditional black-and-white set, the natural boxwood and genuine ebony are the obvious pick. If you prefer something more contemporary, your range from creamy boxwood to blood rosewood, each of which can be complemented with natural ebony.
Other notable details include:
-4.4 inch kings with a 2-inch diameter. Each of them stands on an base pad made of English leather.
-A 23.75 inch chessboard with 2.5-inch squares.
Like all other wooden chess sets from the HOS, the Savano Series Set’s highlight is its build quality. From the chess men to the board and box, everything is as good as it can be both form- and function-wise. The price tag is far from pocket-friendly, but what else could you expect for a masterpiece?
The Aversa Series Chess Set
This is perhaps the best full-size tournament chess set available on the market today. With a price of $699, the Aversa Series Set comes across as the entry-level version into HOS’s luxury range. Of course, that’s not to say that it is any less desirable than its higher-range siblings.
At first sight, the Aversa Series Set charms you with the uniquely-detailed chess pieces. The 4-inch kings are stood on bases measuring 1.8 inches in diameter. These are themselves padded with billiard cloth pads at the bottom. White’s battalion are handcrafted from pale boxwood — this perfectly contrasts the earthy ebony texture of their Black adversaries.
Elsewhere, the Aversa Series Set features:
-A 23.5 inch chessboard made from maple and burl woods
-Chess box: There are several options available here as standard
-An original manufacturer’s plate depicting the production number.
-Elegant build quality
-Chess bag is available
-Not suitable for kids
The Burnt Zagreb ’59 Series Chess Set
What comes to your mind at the mention of ‘vintage-style’ chess set? A sorry excuse of the original design? Or maybe one that’s so good it can only be a knockoff?
Well, the Burnt Zagreb ’59 Series is neither. Although modeled after the design used in the 1959 World Championship Match, the set doesn’t give the slightest whiff of plagiarism. And this is all thanks to the burnt style: Black’s pieces and squares are made not of dark woods, but of light ones darkened by charring.
If that sounds impressive, you’ll be glad to know that everything in the Burnt Zagreb ’59 Set feels just as good. The pieces are individually carved out from boxwood and paired with billiard cloth bases. For the board, maple and blackwood are combined to form a square measuring 22.5 by 0.5 inches in length and thickness respectively. The chess box comes with a cloth lining and two interior compartments to keep the pieces protected.
-Lockable chess box
-All elements are made to withstand the rigors of everyday use
-The chess board is a little too heavy
Ultimately, words alone cannot describe how good the Burnt Zagreb ’59 Set is — you have to see it in person. It should come as a delight that The House of Staunton will let you have it for just $449.
The Collector Series Library Chess Set
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a wooden chess set more elegant than the House of Staunton’s Collector Series Library. A full-sized tournament set, it’s modeled around the 19th century design from Nathaniel Cook. Not that that makes it expensive; the manufacturer will let you have one for just $409.
As you’d expect from a HOS product, the pieces that come with this set are absolutely gorgeous. Each is hand-carved from natural wood and finished off with a billiard cloth for the basepad. You can also choose from an array of woods for your Black pieces.
The most appealing element is however the chessboard. Measuring 17.5 inches in length, this employs a combination of walnut and maple woods, as well as cherry for the framing. It also features a couple of segmented drawers beneath for storing the chess pieces.
Overall, the Collector Series Library Chess Set has no equivalents on the market. While some have criticized it for its bulkiness, that’s just an inherent byproduct of versatility. It also comes with a manufacturer’s certificate as a guarantee of quality.
The Burnt Golden Rosewood Grandmaster Series Chess Set
Chess equipment brands often get a flak for their less-than-stellar entry-level offerings. But the House of Staunton aren’t your average manufacturer. Although the Burnt Golden Rosewood Grandmaster Chess Set isn’t their cheapest, the $399 price tag is low enough to be considered affordable.
And yet, it is one of the most stylish chess sets out there. The 22.5-inch square chessboard, despite having a slim profile, is adoringly beautiful thanks to the use of olive and blackwood for its construction. It comes with 2.25 inch squares to ensure you get enough room during your games.
Not to be outdone, the chessmen are all handcrafted from fine boxwood. These are then weighted, stained and charred to bring out their finest details. To enhance durability, the pieces are glazed and paired with felt basepads.
Other things to love about the Burnt Golden Rosewood Grandmaster include:
-It comes with a chess box
-Allows for customization: There’s a variety of woods to choose from for the chess box
-It comes with 2 extra queens.
As for drawbacks, you’ll only be disappointed if you want a kid-friendly set — this isn’t recommended for children below 5 years. Otherwise, the Burnt Golden Rosewood Grandmaster is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to get the best possible value for money.
The House of Staunton popped into the scene in the year 1990, but their name traces back much further. The Staunton pattern, the design that now commands worldwide recognition, was conceived in the autumn of 1849. Borrowing its name from one Howard Staunton, it was popularized by one of the era’s best chess set manufacturers (John Jaques of London).
A century and a half later, HOS was founded by Frank Camaratta. Over the course of his career as a professional chess player, Frank developed a taste for antique chess sets. Venturing into business allowed him to carry on the exquisite craftsmanship featured on the early Staunton pattern chess sets. The rest, as they say, is history.
For now, let’s look at some fast facts about the House of Staunton:
-They are the world’s largest chess equipment manufacturer
-They’re the sole equipment suppliers for the US Chess Championship
-The company is based in Alabama
-Their products have been featured widely in popular culture.
Speaking of products, the range of items available on HOS’s website is mind-blowing, to say the least. You will find everything from score books to chess clocks and computers. The company also stands out for its intangible offerings, including:
-Move by Move Collection: This book series provides a great platform for players looking to improve their game. The titles themselves are focused on specific high-impact move (e.g. ‘The Closed Sicilian’ and ‘King’s Indian Defense’). Also included are a handful of questions to challenge readers as they advance — this facilitates learning and the assimilation of vital chess skills.
-Chess Informant Series: This is a periodical designed for the seasoned chess enthusiast. Issues are published on a quarterly basis and distributed as e-books. As the resource of choice for professionals, the Chess Informant Series keeps subscribers updated on current events and chess culture.
-Development Software: The HOS offers an array of programs to help players advance their skills. You will find applications that focus on chess openings, strategy, middlegames and endgames.
Shipping and Returns Policy
Flexibility is the name of the game as far as online shopping goes, and the House of Staunton don’t disappoint in this department. Domestic shipping is offered through USPS and FedEx. For order expedition, one can choose between overnight and two-day shipping options, albeit for an additional fee. International orders are shipped in conjunction with FedEx.
The company requires that return requests within 30 days from the time of shipping. Damaged items need to be reported and shipped back within 7 and 14 days respectively. HoS’s policy only covers issues related to manufacturing defects. In all cases, buyers are responsible for shipping charges and duties where applicable.
The House of Staunton’s merchandise is priced between a low of $129 and a high of $6,300. With such a vast range, it’s fair to say that they cater for people in all income groups. Well, almost — some have bemoaned that their pricing locks out grassroots enthusiasts. At the end of the day, though, there’s no denying that this is in line with the quality of HOS’s chess sets.
How Does the HOS Measure Up Against The Competition?
Well, that depends. On one hand, HOS share plenty in common with the Official Staunton Chess Company. Besides being manufacturers of premium equipment, both trace their roots to competitive chess.
With headquarters in the UK and elite reputation, Official Staunton seems to have a lot going on for them. But there’s a good reason why the House of Staunton are regarded as a one-stop shop — they stock just about everything that a chess player might need. Their sets also do a better job of turning the game of chess into a work of art.
In The News
The House of Staunton have attracted lots of headlines for their enthusiasm to take chess to every corner of the planet. In particular, the company has made good of its promise to open up the ‘Authorized Reseller’ program to all businesses. This basically allows 3rd party organizations to sell the brand’s merchandise with no financial commitment required on their part. HOS have also announced discounts on select products — this should come as a delight for both current and interested customers.