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Glass Chess Sets: Then and Now

Glass Chess at Chessusa

Glass Chess Sets

The number of different chess pieces and chess boards is staggering. Not only are there hundreds of designs and styles, there are also many different broad categories of chess piece sets each filling their own niche. Be it from glass chess sets to marble chessmen, these categories of chess products have had their popularity wax and wane over the years.

I’d like to take a little look at some of the popular chess design styles. Today i’ll focus on glass chess sets.

The popularity of Glass Chess Pieces

Glass has been a popular choice for many years. Glass is considered to be a much more modern design than wood or plastic and have always been fairly inexpensive. They also almost always look like traditional Staunton chessmen. This works pretty well to combine the traditional nature of chess with a modern design aesthetic. To many, chess invokes imagery of Victorian era smoke-filled rooms an offices, where old men in suits sip on brandy and cognac while sitting in oversized chairs and playing elaborately carved wood chessmen on equally elaborately carved tables. In the modern era, many appreciate clean lines and simplicity, preferring glass to the carved ebony.

For those reasons glass chessmen remain a popular choice for gifts. Not only are they attractive and affordable, but when compared to traditional wood or plastic chessmen they are different and feel more modern – yet the style is easily recognizable and playable.

There was a time in the nineties and 2000s that glass was perhaps the most popular alternate style from the plastic and wood traditional pieces. At the height of their popularity, we carried perhaps a dozen different glass chess sets of various colors and sizes. Not only was there the traditional transparent and black gloss option, there were many variants of clear and frosted glass in a number of colors. There even were some glass sets that used multiple colors – one side transparent and one side frosted. The chess boards were able to have variations – some were clear and frosted, some were tinted, and others actually have mirrored chess squares. Some storage chess boards with glass chess sets on top also appeared as another unique variant to the style.

The popularity of Glass Chess Pieces – Part II

More recently, there are fewer overall glass chess designs available. It could simply be due to over-saturation of the market with so many designs, but one by one many of those alternate designs were discontinued. Glass sets still exist, absolutely, but now there are only a few options available. The good news is that the sets you will still find were the most popular and are considered the ‘tried and true’ designs.

There are still traditional black and clear (or black and frosted) glass chess sets with either the mirror and frosted or black glass and transparent chessboard. Other designs have come and gone, and it is likely that more will come and go in the future.

Despite less overall options, glass sets are still one of the more well known and popular variant styles of chessmen – probably matching the popularity of marble sets (albeit significantly less expensive). While glass is fragile, with a little care they can certainly be played on regularly, and they look great.

I suspect that we will continue to see glass as a fairly popular option for chess pieces and chessboards moving forward by being ‘different, yet the same’. If you are considering a gift for someone that wants to leave their chessboard and chess pieces out but is not particularly interested in old world style or wood, and does not want unique, unusual designs seen in the thematic chess pieces – glass is a great option.

I hope you found this post informative. As always, if you have any questions or comments – go ahead and leave a message in the comment section below.

Quentin

PS: Is there something you’d like us to write about? Send us an email over at info@chessusa.com if there is something about chess you think it would be worth us blogging about – we always are looking to know what our listeners are most interested in hearing about!

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