The pensive-looking figure to the left, staring across the years with all of the inscrutability of a sphynx, was carved of bone by an Egyptian craftsman about 1000 B.C. He was probably a chess pawn, and is only one of the collection of chess pieces available at Carlebach Gallery in New York. The man is $150, but Carlebach has complete sets (see below for some examples) covering the entire range of chess history and a price range from $20 to $4,000. Other chess sets—and no game ever inspired such diversity of design in its playing pieces—range down to an 85¢ plastic model from the U.S. Chess Federation.
Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI are part of 19th century ivory set ($950, Carlebach Gallery, 937 Third Ave., N.Y.).
Contemporary set of walnut and birch has birch-and-walnut board ($54.50, Georg Jensen, 667 Fifth Avenue, N.Y.).
Japanese knight, a Kabuki character, is part of modern ivory set ($850, Oriental Art Gallery, 756 Madison Ave., NY.).