Ivory Bill

Written evidence submitted by Michael Wiltshire (IVB16)

1    I am writing from Chess Collectors International requesting an exemption for stamped British chess sets which are clearly and easily identifiable by a lay person.

2    Chess is a game which has been played for some 1500 years and chess sets have been made from various materials for 1200 years.  A French museum holds the so called Charlemagne chess set whilst British museums hold the famous Lewis chessmen.   Elephant ivory and other materials were used by British carvers for 300 years until the 1920s when Jaques of London [John Jaques and Son Ltd] the famous games maker, founded in 1795, ceased making ivory chess sets. In fact very few ivory sets were made after 1900 owing to low demand.   All chess sets made by Jaques are clearly identifiable by stamps at the base of the king and can be dated to within 5 years of their manufacture.  

3    Professor Sir Alan Fersht, the British chemist and Master of Gonville and Caius College is the leading authority on Jaques chess sets and has written two outstanding books about them.

4    Much of the history of London workshops in the 19th century is connected to Jaques and other makers such as Lund of Cornhill & Fleet Street and Calvert also of Fleet Street who commenced carving in 1791, all of whom stamped their chess sets clearly, thereby confirming their identity.  Only Jaques, Lund and Calvert stamped their sets.; no other makers did so.

5    Such sets are both culturally and historically important.  I therefore request that such clearly and easily identifiable stamped chess sets, which are probably less than 5% of the total of ivory chess sets, be granted a special exemption under the proposed Act. 

6    Chess Collectors International was founded in 1986 and two of its aims are: -

to sponsor research projects into the history of chess and chessman

to initiate publications concerning chess and chessman.

Michael Wiltshire

President Chess Collectors International

June 2018


Prepared 19th June 2018