Robb Design Portfolio: Check Mate

<< Back to Robb Report, March 2003

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 Designed by Max Esser and originally made in 1923, the chess set has a marine theme that pays tribute to the reigning world chess champion of the period, José Raúl Capablanca, who hailed from Cuba.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. 

When the air had cleared after the frenzy of New York’s spring art auctions, players and spectators...
This circa-1900 pink-swirl marble is in what Dan Morphy calls “wet mint condition,” or as pristine...
Photo by Bob Tursack
Maya Angelou’s art collection focused on works by African-American masters...
The display is part of a hotel-wide renovation that will be completed by the end of the year...
Heritage Auctions will also offer Mickey Mantle’s rookie card and Mike Ditka’s Super Bowl playbook…
Photo by Cordero Studios⁄corderostudios.com
Charles and Judy Tate assembled a world-class collection of Latin American art—and then gave it all...
Photo by The Strong, Rochester, N.Y.
The American game culture is almost as old as the country itself...
Photo by Michael Richter
Visitors trekked to Maastricht, the Netherlands, for the March opening day of the European Fine Art...
Photograph by Ron Pierson, courtesy of Guernsey's
The bounty from the sunken ship includes 40 tons of silver and gold valued at $450 million…
The 13 new portraits include images of Douglas Cramer, Judy Garland, and Ernesto Esposito…