Which Staunton Chessmen are Right for You?

The chess pieces we know as the Staunton collection, were once a striking, artistic discovery. Founded by Nathaniel Cooke, who partnered with John Jaques – a highly regarded ivory turner and businessman, they designed the Staunton Chessmen. 

The name itself is derived from the world chess championship champion at the time, Howard Staunton. Today, the Staunton chess pieces are highly recognisable and very popular, available in a wide variety of different styles and designs.

light atlantic classic staunton chess pieces


What are the Different Staunton Chessmen Available

At Chessgammon, we stock the most popular Staunton chess designs. However, there are a wide selection of designs available on the market, based around the history of Staunton chess. Nowadays, there have been specific Staunton Chessmen created, based on historic wins of great grandmasters in chess.

These sets are entitled, based on the locations where these great wins happened, and offer a slight variation on the original Staunton design. And, there are many other Staunton chessmen, based as simply decorative variations rather than on specific historic wins. 

Cooke and Jaques initial chess pieces were unique in appearance. They were inspired by the Edinburgh upright chessmen, designed by Lord John Hay in the 1840s. The pieces were created to have standardized features, so that no matter who was playing, or what part of the world they were in, the pieces were easily identifiable. 

The standardized sets include the crowned King, a Queen with a Coronet, Bishop with a Mitre, the Knight being the horse’s head, the Rook as a Castle and the pawn having a small ball.

Staunton pieces are normally weighted (single, double, or triple) to allow for sturdiness. Due to there being so many on the market, instead of listing every Staunton chesspiece, we have chosen the most common Staunton designs to explore in this article.  If you want to find out exactly how they are made, head over to our how its made article for unedited photos and videos. All pieces we mention here are the single weighted staunton chessmen, and are available to purchase on our website.

Atlantic Classic Staunton Chessmen

ebonised classic staunton chess piecessheesham classic staunton chess pieces

The Classic Staunton design, also known as the “Atlantic Classic”, has been inspired by the original Staunton chess set. It features a simple Staunton pattern, with all of the components of the set in their simplest form. Although the knight has no greatly distinctive features, it is characterized as being a classic due to its ‘open mouth.’

Its minimalist and simple appearance, makes this a classic and popular design. Even though this set is not as decorative as Studio Anne Carlton, or as heavy as the Roman metal chess pieces, it’s a stunningly sleek and simple design, making it the perfect classic to have as part of a collection. 

If you would like to purchase this gorgeous set, which is a household staple for any chess advocate, then they are available to buy as 3” and 3.75” in both sheesham and ebonised style with additional queens available (on request).

French Staunton Chessmen

ebonised french lardy chess pieces

sheesham french lardy chess pieces

Next, we have the French Staunton, also known as the “French Lardy” chess pieces. Lardy was a French chess set manufacturer from the village of Dortan in the French Jura. Commercialized by brands such as Cavalier, Drueke, Lower, Sterling, and many others – these chess pieces dominated the chess set market between the 1930s and 1970s. 

At first glance, the chess pieces look very similar to the classic Staunton pieces. However, if you look closely there are a few differentiating factors. This includes the knight’s closed mouth, straight back, and the non-dotted eyes with straight back ears. The king piece has a slight variation, which includes a rounded top of the cross. 

We have these available in 3” and 3.75” sizes, with both sheesham and ebonised styles. Upon request, we also have additional queens available.

Downhead German Staunton Chessmen

ebonised german staunton chess pieces

sheesham german staunton chess pieces

The German Staunton set is the most traditionally classic set, but with a slightly modern and chic design. It is not as heavily carved as other Staunton sets, and therefore works beautifully as a classic set. This set is commonly used in high tournaments and famously used around the world, which makes it instantly recognisable to chess players.

These are available as 3” and 3.75” in both sheesham and ebonised style with additional queens available (on request).

Zagreb Staunton Chessmen

ebonised Zagreb Staunton chess pieces

zagreb staunton chess pieces

The Zagreb chessmen are unique and stand out the most to our customers, because of the alternating wood types used for the King, Queen, and Bishop pieces. As seen in the picture above, the tops of the pieces are in a contrasting colour. A beautifully, elegant feature to this set is the “bowing down” position of the knight. 

This set is based on the most popular chess set used during major international tournaments in the 1950s and 1960s. Most notably, the set is infamous for its use during the world championship chess match in 1959, held in Bied, Zagreb. 

During this year, a powerful quadruple round-robin tournament was held in Zagreb and Yugoslavia to appoint a challenger for the reigning world chess champion of that time, grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik. 

The tournament participants included Mikhail Tal, Paul Keres, Tigran Petrosian, Vasily Smyslov, Svetozar Gligoria, Frederik Olafsson, Pal Benko and the infamous Robert James “Bobby” Fischer. 

This set possesses both the historical importance as well as the beauty of a gorgeous Staunton design. The Zagreb Chessmen are available in the 3.75” in both sheesham and ebonised style with additional queens available (on request).

Reykjavik Staunton Chessmen

ebonised reykjavik staunton chess pieces

sheesham staunton reykjavik staunton chess pieces

The Reykjavik set, is a stunning set, inspired by the chessmen used by Robert J. (Bobby) Fischer (USA) and Boris Spassky (RUS) in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972. 

Due to Bobby Fischer’s momentous victory for the USA, during the Cold War Period, it’s no surprise that this set is one of the most historically infamous chess sets made. 

If you’re looking for a beautifully designed set, with great historical value, we have this set available in 3.75” in both sheesham and ebonised style with additional queens available (on request).

Professional Staunton Chess Pieces

ebonised professional staunton chess pieces

morphy sheesham staunton chess pieces

The Professional Staunton chess pieces, sometimes referred to as the Paul Morphy Series of 1884, is a series of chess pieces named after the famous American chess player, Paul Charles Morphy. 

Even though he sadly passed away in 1884, during his brief career, he became renowned as one of the greats of his generation. His highly-regarded status was gained through consistently defeating some of the greatest chess players of his time. This included defeating Hungarian chess great Johann Lowenthal at a young age. 

These Staunton chess pieces are carved in his honour. They are made using the highest and perfect quality of woods available, and polished with a smooth, yet natural finish. 

These are available as 3.75” in both sheesham and ebonised style with additional queens available (on request).

Fierce Knight Staunton Chessmen

ebonised fierce knight chess pieces

sheesham fierce knight chess pieces

This Fierce Knight set is named due to the stunning design of the knight pieces, and is one of the finest pieces sculpted. Characterised by the spikes of the knight’s hairs running along the back of the piece, ready for attack, cross checks on the neck and solid indentations on its chest. The eyes are perked, and jaw open, making this a unique design. 

This set is favourite amongst our customers, due to the undeniable beauty and intricacy of the carvings of each piece. This Staunton set also has a sharper and more detailed look.

These are available as 3.75” in both sheesham and ebonised style with additional queens available (on request).

King Bridal Staunton Chess Pieces

King bridal ebonised

sheesham king bridal chess pieces

Finally, we have the showstopper pieces – our King Bridal Staunton Chessmen. The most elegant and striking pieces on the market. With expert craftsmanship, these pieces are ornamental and breathtaking. 

This design is new, unique, and highly regarded. We guarantee that these will take anyone’s breath away, and they are the most delicate and beautiful pieces available on our site. 

The pieces alone cost £161.99 currently due to our sitewide 10% off and further discounts are available when these are purchased in a set.

These are available as 3.75” in both sheesham and ebonised style with additional queens available (on request).

Staunton chessmen have many variations, styles, and are constantly being re-imagined with newer styles and designs. We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the different Staunton chess pieces, and the historical facts and values around why certain pieces have been designed. With this knowledge, it is much easier to decide on the perfect chess pieces or sets for you to invest in. Our Ultimate gift guide explores further about the chess boards and sets that accompany our beautiful Staunton chessmen.