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Baccarat’s Exquisite Harcourt Chess Set

John Lyon

Two and a half centuries ago, in 1764, King Louis XV authorized the foundation of the French crystal house Baccarat. To celebrate its sestercentennial, the company is hosting yearlong festivities that include exhibitions, grand openings, and special releases. The first of these new releases is the eye-catching Baccarat Harcourt Chessgame, created in collaboration with the Japanese designer Oki Sato. The chess set’s pieces are based on Baccarat’s Harcourt 1841 collection of stemware, the oldest collection in the company’s archives. Each of the six classes of chess piece is a variation on the traditional Harcourt glass, with the rook most resembling the original. The other designs modify the bowl of the glass in a way that evokes the piece it represents. For example, the king piece’s bowl is carved to look like a crown, the bishop’s like a mitre, and the knight’s like a horse. Pieces are rendered in either midnight-blue or clear crystal, and each full set of 32 takes 100 hours to cut by hand. The squares found on a traditional chessboard are delineated on the Harcourt board by panes of Plexiglas that allow light to diffuse and lend the board an ethereal, shimmering quality. The Harcourt Chessgame is limited to just 50 examples and priced at $32,000. (800.777.0100, www.baccarat.com)

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Courtesy of Shakespeare and Company - Paul Foster Books - the NY Antiquarian Book Fair
Photo courtesy of Klein Sun Gallery, New York; Li Hongbo