Hope for an Elegant Game.

The earliest known definitive reference to Chess was in 600 AD and by 1000 AD it had become widespread across Europe and Russia thanks to the Moors introducing it to Spain and Sicily. What we recognise as the modern game was established by the beginning of the 16th century and so we find records of Tudor furniture inlaid with chequer boards of contrasting colour woods and other materials.  As the range of household furniture and the timbers and styles of their manufacture increased so did the variety of pieces with game boards as integral accessories. Some tops were reversable thus providing a double use, others were made to be visible displays of the wealth and taste of the owner.  Although there were professional chess players in 1600 it was more than a century before games were recorded as they were played, and it was from this period that furniture both grand and eccentric can be found to include a chess board.  A fine example is the table illustrated, made to a design by one Thomas Hope, whose name is synonimous with the most recognisable Neo-Classical movement of the English Regency period which stylistically ran from 1784 - 1830.  This was when George, Prince of Wales and later George IV was the chief arbiter of taste and style to his coterie of cognoscenti and fashionistas.  The hugely wealthy Thomas Hope 1769 - 1831 is best known for his book of designs entitled 'Household Furniture and Interior Decoration' published in 1807, in which can be seen his drawings of the interiors of his London and country homes, in Duchess Street and The Deepdene near Dorking. Both were altered to house his collection of antiquities from the Greek, Egyptian and Roman ages with furniture designed by him to complement their display.  The publication helped to further his taste among a wider audience and became what we recognise today as being the ultimate Regency style.  This table faithfully follows that with its inverted baluster end supports, classical bronzed mounts and of course an inset chess board of 32 different types of variegated marble.  Which is why we need Hope for an Elegant Game.