Chess is a game of a particularly long history. During renaissance it has been well known and old already. There’s one staple work of art depicting a chess game from that period;
Sofonisba Anguissola, “The Chess Game”, AD 1555
As you can see, chess pieces which were used in renaissance are recognisable even today. So, if historical accuracy is of any concern to you, it can easily be said that most of the chess sets to be described here easily could have come straight out out of some forgotten renaissance era treasure.
And so, with the historical notes out of the way, let’s dive straight into our first set today; a high quality renaissance set by Manopoulos;
Ah, renaissance is a period of certain enchantment. The of re-discovery of ancient Greek masterpieces, the development of humanism, the reforms of all kinds; truly a longing for that time is nothing to be surprised of – frankly, who wouldn’t want to have seen all that, have been there themselves.
And, well, maybe you can’t quite travel back in time, but you can certainly attempt to relive these times in a symbolic game of chess – and if that’s what you are after, then this renaissance set may be a fairly good choice!
The pieces here are certainly worth a second look; and having been made of gold or silver plated zinc alloy, they are also sure to last a long time.
A set like this is sure to be enjoyed both as a perfectly playable chess set that will take its share of hardships, and as a display piece, sure to draw attention. Be aware, though, that it is no small set;
with the board measuring 14×14 inches, and with the pieces standing over 3 inches tall, it is going to require a fair amount of space to be displayed properly. Oh, and there are different board colours to choose from.
This is one of the more sought after renaissance themed chess sets, and just from the pictures alone it can be clearly seen that its reputation is well-deserved.
While its overall appearance may be similar to the set above, it can be seen that the pieces here are of different design that just may be more to your tastes.
The pieces here would suggest rather earlier than later renaissance in terms of piece design; the king has a more medieval appearance, as do the pawns. However, it also makes the pieces more easily distinguishable, which is not always the case with some of the themed chess sets.
The pieces here are highly detailed, however it is worth noting that the golden pieces may appear somewhat less detailed, probably as a result of the plating process. They are usually sold without a board, however the pieces should come with a storage case. An appropriately sized board for this chess set would measure somewhere around 22”x22”, as does the board visible in some of the pictures shown above – it is not a set that will fit in a regular bookcase, and it is a rather large and heavy set, with the pieces alone tipping the scales at almost 15 pounds.
Whether you are looking for a high-end set just to be displayed, or whether you prefer a very durable set that will withstand long games – this is certainly a rather good choice for a renaissance lover.
Being on the extreme end both in terms of quality and in terms of price it is a set for one who has it all. If you are looking for something that looks and feels as if it could have been owned by a monarch in the late renaissance, look no further. It is the ultimate luxury renaissance set. With the hand-crafted pieces created in bronze using lost-wax casting technique and then finished with silver and gold, and with the board crafted in onyx and marble, finished with bronze, sterling silver and gold, it is as much a real treasure as a chess set.
Rarely it is the case, but in this luxurious set the board is just as beautiful as are the pieces. The filigree construction, the artisan handwork – truly it is a rarity to see something of such quality. It is very similar to Carolingi XIV Chess Set
If you are looking for something to keep in a display case and enjoy like matured wine, this is a set for you. On the other hand, if you need a set that will be played a lot, this may not be a particularly good, mostly due to its delicacy and extreme value.
Pieces: bronze, silver and gold, around 4” each, board: onyx, marble, bronze, silver and gold, 20”x20”x4½”.
And now back to the more mundane chess sets; let’s have a look at a variant of the Italfama set mentioned earlier;
This set is just a painted version of the zinc alloy renaissance set by Italfama. It is certainly much more vivid that way; however, some of the intricate casting detail may be lost under the paint that way. It is a matter of choice, whether you prefer colour, or detail.
An obvious advantage of the coloured version is that it is even easier to tell the pieces apart, and should they be used primarily for display, that appearance may fit the décor more. Other than the matter of colour it is virtually the same as the set mentioned earlier.
This is a vintage set, manufactured from early 60’s to 70’s, and it while it is long out of production, it can be usually found in pre-owned in a good state. Also, its reproductions are fairly widely available. For those two reasons we’ve decided to cover it as well. The pieces are made from weighted plastic, and are rather durable. The board however is cardboard, so the durability is a little lower.
It is certainly a good set for a person looking for a collectible set that can still be obtained at a reasonable price.
As an interesting note, the Lowe pieces themselves are licensed copies of those made by ANRI, and while ANRI still exists, and still manufactures beautiful wooden chess sets, regrettably they do not manufacture that renaissance set anymore.
Wrapping It Up
Thus would like to conclude this little voyage to the times of renaissance. Whether you consider renaissance a period of needless nostalgia for the classical antiquity, or a period of vast advances in arts and sciences, or whether you consider renaissance just an extension of middle ages – those were interesting and important times nonetheless.
And if you came here looking for a little something for a chess-and-renaissance lover, those sets are some of the better ones out there, any and all of them are sure to make an excellent gift