Jaques 4.4" Boxwood and Ebony set Entered No. 8

The earliest Jaques club size sets, dating to 1849-50, are made of boxwood and ebony, stored in a mahogany casket with the label underneath the box. The sets are among most beautiful ever made, with exceptional care taken in the carving of the knights. Unfortunately, these labels are invariably very worn as they were unprotected against rubbing and wear, and the few rare examples are close to illegible. Currently, the oldest legible label, and the second oldest label known is that of set Entered No. 9, belonging to Jon Crumiller, and illustrated on his excellent site. The label is printed but the signature of Staunton is handwritten as is the "Entered" number.

Label No. 9

Thanks to modern digital cameras, the label of another fine early set has been identified as Entered No. 8.

Label No.8

Labels compared, Entered No. expanded. The "8" and the "9" are in the same positions.

The "8", though faint, is typical of Staunton's handwriting.

The knights are particularly fine, being very well matched in their carving and undamaged. The black knights' heads are ebonised boxwood in this period. This set has been little used and the ebonising has not worn through. Frequently, the ears are broken. But not so here.

The bishops are characteristic of the earliest sets. The mitres are are deep and wide, slicing the knops close to the outer edge. It is remarkable that they have not broken off as they usually have done in these very early sets.

King's cross
Frequently, the crosses on the kings are damaged or replaced. There are two clues here that the crosses are original. The crosses were made by turning a cylinder, the width of the cross, varnishing the outside with shellac, then cutting the cross on the lathe with a V-shaped tool, followed by slicing off the front and back. So, the outsides of the horizontal arms of the cross should be convex and varnished, whereas the flats are unvarnished. These features can be seen in the photos - the outer edges are polished and the flats are slightly discoloured as is found with old unvarnished boxwood.

The white king is signed J.Jaques, indicative of 1849-1850.

The pieces

Three pieces have registration stickers for 1 March 1849. These ones have a mistake of the "S" being missing, which is found on the earliest pieces.


The white pawns are all original with all the original felts.

The black pawns are also all original. The small differences are within tolerance of the early standards and indicate the degree of variation to be expected.

The felts of all the pawns are seen to be the same.