Lardy was an important french chess piece manufacturer, founded in 1890 in Dortan near Oyonnax in the French Jura, which closed shop in 1992. In the interwar years and even more in the 50ies and 60ies Lardy must have exported very large numbers of chess sets to the major market USA and England, where they were commercialized by games brands such as Cavalier, Drueke, Lowe,Sterling and others, as well as to smaller markets. This very likely contributed to forcing local makers like Drueke or Horn or other makers in the USA and Jaques in England to stop or reduce making quality wooden chess pieces.
Lardy was not the only french chess piece maker to flood the world with down to middle market chess sets - Chavet and others spring to mind. Their success in export markets like the USA, Great Britain and Germany heralded the arrival of the ascendent Indian manufacturers who in turn started to take away Lardy's market from them in the 60ies and 70ies. Most likely Lardy was one of the french turners who produced immense numbers of Regency chess sets as well - and possibly other styles in chess sets along with sundry other turned wood games - over the last hundred years. Material was mostly Jura boxwood, but maple and softwoods seems to have been used as well - and as it seems, even horn, judging by a fine set owned by Guy Lyons.
Lardy Staunton sets - from the 60ies onward - are easily distinguished by the typical blocky knights head - see the logo - a flat horizontal top line with a small jutting rear fin - strong striatures on head and neck for better sets, as well as bulging wooden eyes. It is of course a two piece knight - Lardy started this technique in Stauntons, earlier knights are still two-piece knights. French makers always had a top line - têtes fines - and a middle line - têtes simples - as well as cheaper sets for the mass trade, with nondescript heads. The final Lardy design was widely copied by indian chess manufacturers like Checkmate - it also has technical advantages! - but has now faded from fashion....check the Indian producers websites as outlined in my Links section. It is not easy to distinguish an Indian Lardy-style set from the original, especially in smaller sets....but European boxwood is different from sheesham!
Smaller version of this early Lardy design - kings at 75 mm, weighted/felted, white king sightly bent with age.
Lardy St. 3
Simple set, with 76 mm kings, mainly interesting because of the paper inlay in the box with the initials " C.W." - Carl Weible, a major German games wholeseller, family owned for several generations, still operating (see here). Recently I have learned that the Bohemia company of Germany was provided with Lardy pattern irons and produced sets with them - this might be a Lardy by Bohemia!
Older Lardy St. 2
Older set, kings 67 mm, in black and white - box wood natural and painted black. Well done knights heads....