Object Record

Image of 2009.25, Chess: Miniature Chess Set
Miniature Chess Set

Image of 2009.25, Chess: Miniature Chess Set, with hand
Miniature Chess Set, with hand

Catalog Number2009.25
Object NameChess
TitleMiniature Chess Set
Date18th c.
DescriptionThirty-two chess pieces of red-painted and white ivory. The pieces are contained in a threaded, silver, egg-shaped, grooved container. The folding board is made of black, white, and red leather, with gold tooling.
LabelIn 1786, Benjamin Franklin compared life to a game of chess in which ”we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effects of prudence or the want of it.” This tiny chess set (the pieces stand less than three-quarters of an inch) came to the Society from the descendants of Mary Stevenson Hewson, who was educated by Franklin when he boarded with her family in London during the 1750s and 1760s. Franklin may have given Hewson his traveling set before she immigrated to the United States in 1786.
MaterialBoard: leather; Pieces: ivory (natural and red-painted); Container: silver
Dimension DetailsBoard: 4.5 x 3.875
Pieces: 0.563 (tallest)
Container: 1.625 x 1.125
Credit lineAmerican Philosophical Society. Gift of Frances Margaret Bradford, 29 June 1960.
Search Terms18th century
 eighteenth century
 Founding Father
ImageMiniature Chess Set
 Miniature Chess Set, with hand
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