October’s Featured Chess Set is on loan to the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) courtesy of Lawrence Cole. Cole is a member of Chess Collectors International, an organization founded in 1984 and dedicated to the study and promulgation of the art and history of chess artifacts. Cole received his first chess set from his grandfather, who was a chess enthusiast, but did not start seriously collecting until the 1980s, when his work as a minister took him overseas, and he traveled through South America and Africa. He favors unique sets that are handmade and that tell stories of their makers, cultural exchange, or the friends who have helped him build his collection, which now numbers over 300. Cole states that, “All collectors are curators of their collection for their immediate lifetime, and after that, they pass them on to someone else.”
Decorated with hand-carved leaves, this set was created by a German prisoner of war named Max in Scotland during World War II. The number of German prisoners of war in Great Britain peaked in September 1946 at 402,200. Trusted prisoners, like the creator of this set, were permitted to leave camps to complete work assignments at locations across the country.
Max was held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Perthshire, Scotland, and created the set for a friend whom he had met on work assignment, Reverend Colin Finnie Miller, the parish minister at Auchtergaven, Bankfoot, Perthshire. Max can be seen with Miller’s son in the photo accompanying the set. German prisoners of war often created small crafts for sale or as gifts from materials that they had at hand. Lawrence Cole, the current owner of the set, views the set as a powerful symbol of friendship during a time of war. More information about this set can be found in the Spring 2018 edition of the CCI - USA magazine.