While I was stepping out of my bathrobe this morning I heard the doorbell buzzer. I looked out the upstairs window and saw a white truck outside. Delivery of some kind.
As I was heading down to the first floor I realized it was the FEDEX truck and instantly I knew what it was–something I had been waiting for quite expectantly.
Wanna know? Me too, but it is still unwrapped because I am “hoping” it is chess sets I ordered some time ago. Now the clock is ticking (to pay for them!!)
Soon as I get dressed like John Peterman (just kidding, but there is a story about him in the September issue of Bob’s Chess News) I will open it up on a table made for such things. Then I will inspect. Makes my heart go pitter patter. And “pitter patter” some more.)
“Elegance can’t be passed by.”
Abruptly, over a month ago, I ran out of my Grand Turk chess sets. With a 4 inch tall King and the pieces made of “perfect” budrosewood and boxwood, it always takes my breath away. Nothing in the world of “light” gleams on the budrosewood like this. I don’t mean to be remiss about the boxwood, because, isn’t boxwood just boxwood?
Well, in a word, “No.” This wood is polished and it comes off as Hard as ivory. The jawline of the Knight is detailed, not simple, the capture of the nose, and the symmetry of the horse’s mane is furniture to behold. The pawns are bold and stately, not crouched down like a mushroom.
All of this is extremely fortuitous because while I may not own a new car, I own one of these sets. My son and I play on it.
It stays in this house on a California Bar Table (nope, I don’t sell those yet, but I will admit I’ve had customers ask me how much I wanted for mine!)
But BOB What Else Are You Going to Write About?
The boxes you might want to store them in, are READY! Well, 95% Ready. “What’s the missing 5% ole hoarder of ye ancient secrets?”
You will know very soon because this morning I got the proof from the manufacturer in Virginia. WOWIE! I’ve already sent it to my son in Maryland for his take but since we both think so much alike, I am pretty sure what he will say. Dang it, I get goosebumps just thinking about it!
When that precious piece of work is finished, it will be shipped to me and my woodworker will put the finishing touches to the two boxes. What else?
Last week I took a lot of pictures so I could show you, but that is not yet possible.
Because something else is being done to the boxes and it’s exquisite. Good grief I can hardly help myself (I am not kidding). I photographed it on the “perfect” grass (green, green, green) of my neighbor’s yard with, of course, Frank’s permission. He’s becoming a local celebrity. Recently the newspaper featured his house in the home & garden section, in color! Frank said, “And now my lawn? What did I do to deserve this?”
One never knows (well, almost never) where their lot in life may lead them down the road.
SUMMING THE GRAND TURK UP
Let’s see. There is the beautiful Grand Turk itself. It’s a natural and yet it reeks with “elegance.” It’s as good or better than any House of Staunton chess set I’ve seen, though they try to tell anyone who will listen that their stuff is nonpareil. I don’t think so and I am willing to repeat that, ” don’t think so!”
Yes, at this stage I have no advertising prettiness such as “Owned by Benjamin Franklin.” Or “We included a Certificate of Authenticity.” Or “We give you the history of the John Jaques manufactured set designed by Nathaniel Cook”, etc. Maybe that is in the future but for the time being, a brilliant set, with a brilliant concept in caskets (as the Brits call them) or boxes made of mahogany, paduak, maple, and walnut (depending on which of the two boxes strike your fancy).
Why “brilliant?” Because, as you will see, the pieces stand up!!! All are easily accounted for. The two Kings do NOT stand up but the solution for their presence is a remarkable testament to my woodworker!
And, there are places for the two extra Queens!
When the two boxes were unveiled in front of my friend Carol, I thought she was going to swallow her heart (and she’s a former surgical nurse who is supposed to be able to handle such things!)
Do the pieces tip over in the boxes? No.
What is the outside of the box like, if you can actually describe it here?
Similar to those fancy “gun or pistol” boxes you see collectors putting their valuable collectibles in! But each box will be different though there will only be ONE set of prototypes.
I’ve been gone to gift shows in Chicago since around 1980 I have seen the hinging on boxes made in India and I have to remark, not too exciting. They look old, The nails or screws in them and cut out recesses are the things which bring the boxes into “suffocatingly ordinariness.” Our hinging is shiny, well-working brand new brass (not stored in a back room for ages).
And my craftsman finished it off with green felt flocking in the recesses and on the smooth surfaces. And, this excellent orator with wood is from the Midwest, not China where these days a lot of their woodworking is made from PRESSED wood.
The boxes are “grooved” on the sides to allow these pieces (esp. the budrosewood) to breathe. It also makes it easier to lift the lid which has been magnetized at the opening to stay closed and not fall open. Going further, we left out the “lock and key” idea because, let’s face it, any kid with a toy hammer could open a wooden chess box simply by bashing it. And you know that “key” is eventually going to be misplaced (and you wouldn’t bash in your own box!)
ONE MORE THING
Two friends of mine, from Florida, found out about what I was having done and they described this set and box as having “Serious, snob-appeal!” While they joked about it, they also told me in the circles with which they ran, this was a big deal. I am hoping some actual chess players can feel comfortable too with having something that is so nice they don’t mind showing off a little bit. (Just don’t overdo it, let your friends do it!)
You don’t have to gloat or go around pointing out everything to your friends and implying they what they own is “dumpster material” (a Bob Long exaggeration); they will decide that for themselves!
As one of the best testimonials I have gotten, Gary White (Lee’s Summit, MO) got his set (without the boxes because his set will be out for “play” all the time!) and just about freaked out. He said it was better looking than the HoS one he bought 25 years ago! (Gary doesn’t buy crap.) The exact quote will come with the literature announcing this set (if we have any left) before Christmas. I don’t think we will have any sets left… we have only 4-5 complete sets as it is. Will these fly off the shelf? I’ll have to wait and see but you can do your part.
About the “one more thing” bit, borrowed from Steve Jobs, I forgot, there is one more thing, maybe two.
If you love the boxes but feel they may be out of your price range after paying for the Grand Turk, we also have the “Cassady Bags.” Supple, cuddly (?), Colombian cowhide that is right up their with the best leather gloves you have ever owned. They come as a pair, tan and black. Inside are nylon pouches for the pawns and pieces (am thinking of you!). The draw string cords are tough, thick, and ever lasting. You can pull them as tight as you want and there will still be an “air opening” at the top to allow your budrosewood pieces to breathe. These bags are designed for the 4″ King size. We also have bags for the 3″ King which I call the Gurkha, and there is a GREAT story behind that! I have one of those on hand too!
All coming out in due time.
You Might Be Wondering. . .
If there really was only ONE more thing and your guestioned guess would be correct, there is more, just for you.
Carol and I have assembled a kit called the King’s Strongbox. It is for beautification and consummate wooden set handling. Inside the box (I haven’t even had time to make labels for the boxes, but… I will) are 32 bags in a sheer cloth like those made to hold cigarette tobacco (darn, I can’t think of their name, used to see my grandpa with it all the time). There are white cotton gloves for handling the pieces if you are so inclined (of course you might do this when no one is looking!). There is a buffing cloth (white) for anytime you think you might need more lustre on the wood, or for just cleaning the room “dust” off. (I know, you have a completely dust-free house. I don’t.)
Then there is one more, kinda cool, thing. Wax for the boxwood pieces. It is a museum wax used by the British for just about everything, especially wood. It goes on in a very thin paste (can be used on wooden chessboards too) application, Then, buff it.
Now you don’t have to make a religious proceeding out of this. Maybe once a year or as the manufacturer told me, at the most, every six months. This wax is seriously hi-grade used by serious collections and crazed woodworkers. The wax comes in small bottles. It IS sheen-city (sorry, I couldn’t resist). I do not recommend getting such waxes from your local hardware stores. I’ve looked!
How Much Is It?
You might be thinking that because I listed the “how much is it” item last that I am going to offer something to you which is unaffordable. If it was unaffordable, I wouldn’t be selling it. I do own the set but I don’t own the boxes because these are new and for sale to my customers. The boxes haven’t been priced yet because the accessory which goes on them has not yet been received by me (they say 3-4 weeks). The sets I can sell right now.
The Grand Turk pieces (which most of you haven’t seen yet) will be photographed and sent to you by mail but I will need your physical address (where you get your mail–the sets and boxes should not be going to Post Boxes unless that is all you have!) The pricing for the pieces will be based on the bases. One set is green felt, the other set (a bit more expensive) will be on black leather so, if you should desire, you can have your initials “branded” on their base by any competent jeweler (first find out if he/she is competent!)
Am not trying to keep you hanging on purpose. I have seen the item I am waiting for and there has to be a small adjustment. (Always something.) Included with all the particulars will be a wonderful BONUS (that means, FREE!) It is a book on “the architecture of chess” by Gareth Williams called MASTER PIECES. A hardcover in color with a vellum -like cover. The darn thing keeps rising in price but I have 4 of them on hand to the first 4 orders I get.
In the meantime, just contact me (Bob Long) at 563-271-6657 with questions
You will never regret it. What else? The pieces have a “life-time” guarantee. Details with the set.
And, I am talking to a female manufacturer about bags with foam for chessboards and boxes to keep them from getting “hurt” should you do something “dumb” (like I did a month ago). My Emperor board was dropped on a corner in the street when one of those hotel clothes carriers shed it going around a corner and “woe” was me. My box maker fixed it all up (less than $50) and it now looks better than when I originally got it!
P.S. I just heard back from Rob about the accessory. To quote him: “Hi Dad, I love it.”
P.P.S.: I know some will want to see pictures right now but this website has a limit on space for that kind of thing unless I pony up more cashola. Just give me a call, I will take care of you. It behooves me to treat you like you deserve. Just don’t drool on the set when you get it!!
P.P.P.S.: Okay, I’ve got to stop this soon, it’s lunchtime. Give me a call. I won’t scare you. If I’ve forgotten my cell phone (it happens sometimes or I am on the phone with someone) just leave a clear message. WAHOO! (see the movie “I.Q.” with Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, and Walter Matthau.)