Old Vienna & Coffeehouse Chess Sets
The old Vienna or Coffeehouse style evolved from the earlier Biedermeier chessmen - probably influenced by the arrival of the Staunton style! These sturdy and serviceable chessmen - fairly easy to make for the numerous turnings shops in existence in those days - became the standard in Central Europe - the lands of the Austrian monarchy as well as Germany , Switzerland , and Northern Italy. Major tournaments like Vienna 1898, Semmering 1927, and Karlsbad 1929 were played with these chess pieces. The workshops, the substyles, the carvers - all of these are scantily documented and mostly forgotten nowadays. There is only one certainty - such chessmen are not made any more in Austria, nor in Germany. similar pieces were made until recently in Poland, Yugoslavia (the Subozan factory in Novisad!) and in Romenia, copies still come out of India!
Coffee House memories...
"Fat pawn" set
A very clean and tidy set with interesting knights, and two-pieces bishops with striated separate ball tops, and little felt pads! These are signs of quality - set is probably from the 20ies to 40ies - round bases - and seems not to have suffered club or coffeehouse use - it is a compact set of one cut! It is certainly from the Jacoby/Nekvasil manufacture (see essay) Kings stands 105 mm....
One more club size coffeehouse set, chiefly distinguished by the superb accompanying box/board - post-war Nekvasil issue - and the fact that the varnish on the figures has bubbled, dirt has caught in the pores, leading to a "peppered" aspect. One of these days I might work on it - king stands 110 mm!
One of the nicest sets I own - simple harmonic forms, beautiful kings (100 mm) and queens - and a simply perfect natural varnish that has mellowed to a rich honey colour. I have no idea where it is from, who made it - and can only guess at "Jugendstil" and an age of ca. 70 years.....
19th C South German set
Very old South German/Austrian set, no piece alike, rich patina - king 82 mm. a much better set of the same cut can be seen here!
Nekvasil Portable 2
Another small boxed portable set - hardly taller (king 66 mm) but more substantial, box larger.