I've always liked this simple19th century Austrian design. Earlier, and at least as practical as the Staunton design, these sets, famous for play in the Coffeehouses of Vienna, were used in Austrian tournament play long after the Chess Federation ruled that all play was to be done with Staunton pieces. The offiicials didn't care or possibly didn't even notice as some of these sets look so much like Stauntons you have to wonder of Cook didn't get some of his inspiration from Austria. Actual Coffeehouse sets were large and could take a beating, however many refer to any set in the Vienna style as "Coffeehouse" tregardless of practicality for coffeehouse play. The terms are interchangable.Gereth Williams calls them "Austrian Conventional" Chessmen. No one single name for this style has stuck. Opposite color bishops are the trademark of this design, though they exist in other designs as well, Czech sets, etc... what's more I've seen a few sets now that look just like these but without the opposite color bishops. Klaus Doblhammer has an impressive collection of Old Viennese sets along with some information about the design here (click on the Alt-Wiener tab on the left to go straight to the coffeehouse sets but be sure to check out the rest of the site, especially if you read German.) Nicholas Lainer of the chess-museum has a good selection and the best information regarding this kind of set in English. I have a good typical example of this set, an odd fairly high quality horn set, and 'cute' little travel set in this style.
|Old Viennese Travel Set:|