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An unusual find was this chess-set in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It is made of wood (Buxus sp.) and originated ca. 1550 in Germany where it was crafted by an anonymous artist. The description [1] is as follows:
“The black king in this chess-set looks like Emperor Charles V. He wears the chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece and is shown on horseback, trampling a dragon, just as the emperor conquered his enemies. The bishops are knights on horseback, the rooks are jeering fools with monkeys, and the pawns resemble pikemen or regular soldiers. The figures are each standing on a twisted and profiled base, bordered by florets. (…) Two white and two black riders (councilors) are attacking. Each of them is completely harnessed to a saddle and saddle-cloth, on a rearing horse, the front legs resting on the house of a snail, which rears its head. The head of the rider is turned slightly to the right. The raised left hand holds the horse’s bridle, the court battle ax, a sword hanging on the left to a belt around the waist. (…)”. Only the white chess-pieces are shown on the photograph.

1550c_anoniem BK-NM-7402

The two snails can only partially be seen, but at least one of the specimens looks rather turrited. Both are very stylised by the nature of the material they were crafted from, and undefined in their coiling.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 17.44.39Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 17.45.08

[1] RMA, BK-NM-7402. http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.25556