A single Lewis chessman bought for £5 by an antique dealer was sold for £735,000 in July 2019.
Chess sets consist of 32 pieces, but a set discovered buried in the sandbank of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831 was missing one piece. A dealer bought a chess piece for £5 in 1964 and left it at the family home, not thinking it was worth much more then he paid for it. The dealer’s family decided recently to have the piece valued and it was identified as the missing Lewis chessmen piece. It sold for £600,000 at auction. The anonymous buyer had to pay commission that bought the total paid to £735,000.
Alexander Kader an expert on the Lewis chess pieces 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.”
The chess piece is made from walrus tusk and was probably made in Norway between 1150 and 1200. No one knows how the chess set ended up in Lewis, but it could have been part of a shipwreck.
There are 82 Lewis chessmen in the British Museum and 11 in the National Museum of Scotland. Five chessmen are still missing.
You won’t find Lewis chessmen for sale in Lancashire antique shops, but dealers in the area sell fine antique coffee tables that are ideal for a game of chess.
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