December’s Featured Chess Set is part of the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). Since its creation in 1986, the WCHOF has endeavored to highlight the history and cultural significance of the game of chess. The WCHOF’s collection is diverse and includes sets once owned by legendary players, mass-produced sets with lively pop culture themes, antique ivory sets, travel sets, as well as chess computers. Through these artifacts, the WCHOF illustrates how chess has evolved through its over 1500-year history.
Polar bears, seals, and the iconic contour bottle—all recognizable aspects of The Coca-Cola Company’s advertising campaigns—are pieces in this chess set. Patented in 1915, the contour bottle was designed to be distinct from the bottles of The Coca-Cola Company’s competitors and recognizable even if dropped. Though polar bears first appeared in the company’s print advertisements in 1922, they are best known from a series of television advertisements that began in 1993 and were developed by Ken Stewart. Stewart modeled the bears’ behavior on that of his dog and worked with digital animation company Rhythm & Hues to create advertisements using computer animation. He later introduced the seals (another piece in this set) to the advertisements because the two animals are usually enemies. In the commercials, however, they bond over Coca-Cola.