Object Record

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Catalog Number 2009.25
Object Name Chess
Title Miniature Chess Set
Artist Unknown
Date 18th c.
Description Thirty-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.
Label In 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.
Material Board: leather; Pieces: ivory (natural and red-painted); Container: silver
Dimension Details Board: 4.5 x 3.875
Pieces: 0.563 (tallest)
Container: 1.625 x 1.125
Credit line American Philosophical Society. Gift of Frances Margaret Bradford, 29 June 1960.
Search Terms 18th century
eighteenth century
Founding Father