of each piece was made plain, but simple enough to be
reproduced economically at a reasonable price.
The king was symbolized by a crown; the queen by a
coronet; the bishop by a mitre; and so forth. The
knight's heads were copied faithfully from the horses
of the Elgin marbles, and the pawn was designed to re
present the masonic emblem of a square and compasses.
The base of each piece represented a cushion, on which
the emblems might rest. But stems of different heights
were also introduced between the cushion and the
emblem as a concession to the conventional method of
identifying the pieces.
Mr. Howard Staunton, one of the famous exponents of
the English school of chess, was so struck by the
improvement which these designs introduced, that he
allowed them to be called by his name, and gave per
mission to use a facsimile of his signature on every box
The soundness of the design ensured it an immediate
commercial success. It became, within a few years, not
only the standard design for this country, but the
standard design wherever the European form of the
game was played. Reproduction on a quantity basis
showed the need for only slight modifications
another tribute to the thought of the original designer.
The frills and beads were slightly strengthened, the
knights' ears were set farther back, and the collar of the
pawn at a rather less acute angle. These modifications
were simply introduced to avoid the danger of break
ages in transit and in use.
There are always people who see a degradation in the
quantity production of any article previously made by
hand, or the commercial success of a cheapened line.
For them a few "quaint" chessmen are still turned out,
but as H. R. J. Murraythe notable authority on chess
historyremarks, there are few chess players to-day
Troru Hie/llfouso MS
l Q_ B Kh
Trom M5 Cotton, Cleop.Rix
Troru MS Dresden 0/59
Vronz MS. Taris f. fr. I \Jt>
Troru MS Torence,Rjcc. o.n.SO.MJI.
Examples of Chessmen from MSS.
who would care to use anything but the Staunton
The universal adoption of a standard design has done
more for the game than simply providing its devotees
with an agreeable instrument of play.
The rapid popularization of the game from the late
eighteenth century onwards must have been due in
some part at least to the simplification of play follow
ing a more easily identifiable set of pieces.
The many books of chess problems published since
that period also owe much to the use of the symbols
first selected by John Jaques. One has only to com
pare the symbols used to illustrate any modern chess
problem with those of the pre-Staunton chessmen days
to see the advantages of clarity which have been gained.
Blindfold chessplay was known in the eleventh century,
but it was not until the first thirty years of the nine
teenth century that as many as seven or eight games
were first played unseen at once. To-day, 27 or 28
games, played unseen and simultaneously are not
unknown. There is no doubt that here, also, the
standardization of the pieces throughout the European-
chess playing world must have helped to develop the
A contribution to the curiosities of chess has also been
provided by the firm of John Jaques Son, Ltd., in the
design and production of a set of chessmen for the
Queen's Doll's House, perfectly carried out to scale,
with a king of inch in height to a pawn of inch.
Heraldry has shown less than its usual ingenuity in devising
designs for Chess. The Rook, which is embodied in various
English crests, such as Rookwood, seems to have little con
nection with its counterpart on the board.