The painting, from 1769, depicts Sir William Earl Welby, a British landowner, baronet, and member of Parliament, with his wife, Penelope.The portrait is highlighted by a chess set on the table. While answers are often extremely hard to come by, I thought it would be a service to write a quick explanation on why it is so difficult as well as give some suggestions for finding out more. Sometimes just a search to find out a little more about a chess piece set that has been passed down in the family.
Because of that, we get a lot of requests for things we do not normally handle. There is good reason to want to find out – chess sets vary in value from worthless to tens of thousands of dollars in some rare instances.This column examines one effective and highly interesting method – by finding dated, documented resources, such as books, magazines, prints, and artwork that include pictorial representations of chess sets.A typical example of this dating method is shown in a painting by renowned English artist Francis Cotes (1726-1770).An important question for the collector/researcher is: how can antique chess sets be accurately dated?There are several methods that can be used to “triangulate” valid date ranges for different types of sets. There are some common traps to fall in which seem to keep appearing for ever. Now this time I will show you an exquisite and old treasure! I do not want to say that these sets are crap if new.