Metal Chess Pieces:
A lot of focus is put in to wood chess pieces because they are the most traditional. However, there are many other alternate forms of chessmen, be it metal chess pieces or chessmen manufactured from stone, plastic, or resin. One of the most popular alternatives to wood is metal. If you are looking to buy a metal chess set, this post is going to show some of the fantastic styles of metal chess piece sets in all their forms.
Of course, there is more than one type of metal. The two most important, and commonly seen in chess sets, are pewter and brass. There are however also a lot of generic cast metals used for chessmen, and that will be explored below.
Pewter Chess Pieces – Theme
The most common metal used in chess is pewter. In general, pewter is very easy to work with and is semi-malleable. This means the pieces are not so brittle and provides some longevity as well as very fine detail you might not find in other forms of metal. Like all other metal options, pewter is heavy so it feels great in your hand.
Pewter sets are almost universally figurine or theme in design. There are many great and fanciful pewter chess sets with designs of famous wars (like the civil war, revolutionary war, or napoleonic wars) or fantasy themes (such as dragons and fairies). However, there are also unusual designs such as golf, nautical, egyptian, and even the famous Isle of Lewis design in pewter form.
Pewter also lends itself very well to being painted. The unpainted varieties are usually gold opposing silver, which some find too distracting or without enough contrast to actually play. While many actually prefer this more simple approach, many of the pewter designs also have great detail when expertly painted.
Finally, because these are available from domestic distributors, it is sometimes easier to get replacement pieces if you break or lose one down the line.
Metal Chess Pieces – Figurine
The main problem with Pewter is that it can be quite expensive. One alternate are cast metal chess pieces made from alloys. These pieces can be much larger than pewter and still be around the same price, meaning that these are some of the heaviest chess pieces available.
We import many of our metal sets from Greece and Italy, so one negative is it is a little difficult to get replacement pieces – sometimes you need to wait a year or so for it to arrive! These designs are also figurine, and most have either Greek, Egyptian, Roman, or Crusade/medieval themes. While these are usually two-tone (gold and silver) we sometimes have oxidized versions that are processed to look aged. Those sets are green and blue in color.
The other nice thing about our metal sets is we have matching metal chess boards to go with them!
Brass Chess Pieces
Brass is the most expensive option for metal chess pieces (aside from gold and silver, which do in fact exist as well!). Brass is extremely expensive, and most of the sets we have seen come out of Italy. These pieces are often staunton-like, with artistic renditions and teardrop like shapes. They are often very tall and slender and of course extremely heavy. Like other metal sets, they are often two-tone, with a natural brass color against a silver/pewter finish.
Staunton Metal Chessmen
You may have noticed we’ve focused entirely on theme metal chess pieces. There are some staunton designs as well, but they are often quite small due to the expensive cost of the material. It might be a better choice to go with a large, weighted wooden set as opposed to the cost for an item with less overall detail and without the hand-made charm of carved chessmen.
Most of the chess pieces discussed are available on our website in their respective theme categories. If you are looking to buy metal chess pieces, go ahead and take a look – there are tons of options beyond the ones I discussed and I find that you can have great fun just getting lost in all the possibilities.