Robb Design Portfolio: Check Mate

<< Back to Robb Report, March 2003
  • Randi Danforth

Some mind games—such as chess or backgammon—are eternally entertaining. Chess sets themselves are often treated as works of art. Meissen has produced sets for the past three centuries that intrigue and delight, and a limited-edition reintroduction of Sea World, one of the company’s most whimsical designs, is a standout this spring. Designed by Max Esser and originally made in 1923, the chess set has a marine theme that pays tribute to the reigning world chess champion of the period, José Raúl Capablanca, who hailed from Cuba.

The intricate details of Esser’s starfish pawns, sea horse knights, lobster bishops, and octopus rooks show his particular genius for sculpting animals. The Sea World set ($36,000) is from an edition of 19 from the Century Collection, a series that debuted in 1999 highlighting the German porcelain company’s artistic legacy. Editions from this series feature a special gold signet back stamp. It is a rare event when a chess set is released, as Meissen only produces them when one of its artists feels inspired. The last set, issued in 1986, was Peter Strang’s Heaven and Hell, which features saucy demons challenging demure deities. 

From Around the Web...
The contents of Tut’s tomb paint a decadent picture of Egypt’s famous boy pharaoh…
Items include a gold medal won by Jesse Owens and a jersey worn in hockey’s “Miracle on Ice” match…
Original cover art by Frank Frazetta sells for world-record price…
Fine jewelry, furniture, dedicated books, and art will be auctioned…
These writing instruments are still a must-have—even in a digital world…
From Basquiat to Duchamp, Bowie’s incredible art collection goes to auction…
Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden landscape installation will be exhibited at the iconic Connecticut...
The nostalgic allure, rarity, and beauty of these pieces and sets are fueling collectors’ demand…
Photo by Donald Bowers
The enormous rough-cut diamond did not find a winning bidder today…
Two groundbreaking modern paintings sell for high above their original estimates…