Antique and vintage Chinese ivory chess sets
A Chinese ivory chess set
A Chinese ivory chess set
ivorychess

Antique and vintage Chinese ivory chess sets are desirable chess collectibles, which regularly appear at auction.

They generally feature highly decorative, carved figures and often come equipped with their own portable box, which doubles as the chess board.

According to the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act’s definition of “antique”, Chinese ivory chess sets were made more than 100 years ago.

Vintage sets were produced within the last 100 years.

The plight of elephants has gained increasing attention in recent decades and since 1977 is has been illegal to kill an elephant in Kenya, one of the African elephant’s main habitats.

This has ensured that ivory collectibles tend to be antique or vintage-era items.

Value and notable sales of Chinese ivory chess sets

It is illegal to send ivory out of the US, which has had a significant impact on the ability for US auction houses to attract bidders.

This has seen prices remain lower than might have been otherwise expected.

  • A 19th or 20th century Chinese ivory chess set, depicting imperial court figures, achieved $5,250 at a US Antique Estate auction in March 2011.
  • A 19th century Chinese ivory chess set sold for £475 at Christie’s London in November 2008, meeting its £400 to £600 estimate.
  • A Chinese ivory figural chess set sold for $8,000 at US auction house Sloans & Kenyon in April 2007.

See also

Main article: Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky signed chess set
Main article: Chess Memorabilia And Collectibles
Main article: Antique ivory

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