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Metal Chess Pieces – Pewter, Brass, and more

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

Pewter Theme Chess Sets

We have a huge variety of pewter chess pieces… both two tone and hand painted. Click The Image to go to our Theme Chess Sets category.

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.

Hand Painted Pewter Chess Pieces

A selection of painted pewter chess pieces – notice the great detail! These are our civil war pewter chess pieces (ITEM: 2L-001) and our American Revolution painted pewter pieces (ITEM: 2L-004). Click the image to see all of our metal chess sets.

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

Theme Metal Chess Pieces

These are only some of the metal chess pieces we carry… see more at our chess store. Click the image to go to our chess set and chess pieces category.

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

Gold and Silver Staunton Metal Chess Pieces

This is one of our staunton metal chess pieces – Item Code 2E-020.

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.

Quentin Turner

Our Chess Store

See our chess store, and our chess website, here!

14 comments to Metal Chess Pieces – Pewter, Brass, and more

  • Gary Wenger

    I broke one of my pewter chess pieces, the head came off one of the pawns. Can you repair something like that?

  • Jason

    I am here in Bahrain and found a chess set I would like to purchase but I am unsure of its credibility. I do not know too much about buying a set. I am mainly asking about the pieces. The seller tells me they are solid brass and solid copper. How common is it to find a set like that and is there a way I could tell if they are not just plated. Not sure if price is relevant but he is asking $400 with the board which I believe is to be of only wood.


    I just bought an Isle of Lewis chess set that my husband has now told me is incomplete. I am missing three faced or “foot soldier” pawns (all I can find online are the tombstone pawns), a bishop, a queen, and a knight.

    The pieces I have are what looks to be cast bronze and cast iron, VERY HEAVY. I cannot find a set like mine anywhere. We live in Birmingham, AL which is (or was) known for iron smelting. My husband thinks someone that worked in a smelting plant just got a mold and cast their own.

    Do you know anything about a set like this?

    Thank You.

    • Hmm, There are tons of isle of lewis versions out there because it is so famous. My best recommendation would be if you’d like to send us a photo of the set we’ll see if it is anything we’re familiar with. The reality is if it was made by a local, it might be a one-of-a-kind sort of item in which an antique dealer or auction house might be a better place to go for information.

  • bettyann

    How much are the staunton chess pieces….?

    • They range all over! We have staunton chessmen ranging from a 2 1/2″ set for 29.95 to sets over 1,000.00. They come in lots of different woods and sizes and styles, for lots of different budgets. Your best bet would be to check them out directly on the website!


  • norm davis

    Does anyone make patterns for casting chess pieces in brass?

    Thanks. Norm

  • Rommie Overton

    I have owned a brass chess set since 1972…in its original wooden slide box. Purchased in Italy when my father was in the Army. I need to sell it but would love to know who could appraise it?

  • Keitha

    Do you create pieces from a cast of a broken piece? If not, do you know of anyone who does?

  • In case you have time for a purely information seeking Q: I recently purchased a couple of brass chess sets. They are identical in style, though one appears to be mass produced while the other is clearly hand turned and crafted. Both are figural, solid brass & heavy. They may have been made in Italy, but the kings have oriental features and a fu manchu mustache with a beard.
    They come in different boxes, with the newer set maybe dating from the 50’s? And the older one from 1920 or later (my guess)? The newer set shows a seam indicating mass manufacturing. The older set has no seams and has clearly individual variations in thickness of the pawns, points on top of the pawns, faces and crowns on the queen & king,etc. Machinist lines are also visible in the tops of the rooks. One last note: both the king and queen sit with a bit of a slouched or pot bellied stance.
    If that sounds familiar, I would love to know:
    a.) any potential info where and when they may have been made, , b.) the name, if any, of this particular style, and c.) a general ballpark idea of value, if you have the time and inclination. Thank you

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