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Author Topic: Lost Lewis Chessman piece bought for 5 sells for 735,000 at auction  (Read 582 times)
Neil
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« on: July 02, 2019, 04:24:25 PM »


The chess piece had been bought by an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 5 in 1964

A medieval chess piece kept in a drawer of an Edinburgh home has been sold at auction for 735,000.

Its previous owners had no idea that the object was one of the long-lost Lewis Chessmen.

The chessmen were found buried in a sand dune on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 but the whereabouts of five pieces have remained a mystery.

The Edinburgh family's grandfather, an antiques dealer, had bought the chess piece for 5 in 1964.

The new owner of the piece has not been named. Sotheby's said the price set a new record for a medieval chess piece at auction.

The Edinburgh antiques dealer had no idea of the significance of the 8.8cm piece (3.5in), made from walrus ivory, which he passed down to his family.

They have looked after it for 55 years without realising its importance, before taking it to Sotheby's auction house in London to be auctioned.


The Lewis Chessmen are among the biggest draws at the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Made in Scandinavia, possibly Norway, they are seen as an "important symbol of European civilisation".

Sotheby's expert Alexander Kader, who examined the piece for the family, said his "jaw dropped" when he realised what they had in their possession.

The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword, which "has immense character and power".

The identity of the new owner of the warder has not been revealed

Following the sale, Mr Kader said: "This is one of the most exciting and personal rediscoveries to have been made during my career.

"It has been such a privilege to bring this piece of history to auction and it has been amazing having him on view at Sotheby's over the last week - he has been a huge hit.

"When you hold this characterful warder in your hand or see him in the room, he has real presence."

Despite not knowing its significance, the late 12th/early 13th Century chess piece had been "treasured" by the family.

The previous owner's late mother believed it "almost had magical qualities".


The Lewis Chessmen set includes seated kings and queens, bishops, knights and standing warders - the medieval version of rooks on a modern chess board - and pawns.

Some 82 pieces are now in the British Museum and 11 pieces held by the National Museum of Scotland. As well as the chess pieces, the hoard includes 14 "tablemen" gaming pieces and a buckle.

Since the hoard was uncovered in 1831, one knight and four warders have been missing from the four combined chess sets.

The discovery of the hoard remains shrouded in mystery, with stories of it being dug up by cattle grazing on the dunes.

It is thought it was buried shortly after the objects were made, possibly by a merchant to avoid taxes after being shipwrecked, and so remained underground for 500 years.


* _107185991_chessmanone.jpg (63.46 KB, 624x799 - viewed 1784 times.)
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2019, 10:35:48 AM »

Thanks Neil, time to turn out the draws. Wink
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2019, 09:28:41 AM »

One of the things that was commented on in some of the press was that this chessman is quite dark in colour and they were thinking that this one might genuinely have been removed from the sets before there was any chance for them to be cleaned; this then gives us an insight into what the whole must have looked like when they were dug up.

I'm so surprised that anyone in Scotland - especially in something like antiques wouldn't have known what this object was.

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nobby
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2019, 06:10:02 PM »



I'm so surprised that anyone in Scotland - especially in something like antiques wouldn't have known what this object was.



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I know??? It's all booze and fried mars bars up there in it!!! LOL
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2019, 06:46:10 PM »

Apologies to any of of our Scottish patrons on here  Wink
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