- The Thistle and the Rose -

Around 1976 Beneagles Scotch whisky collaborated with Wade to produce collectable miniature bottles in the shape of Scottish and English historical figures.
The major pieces, full of whiskey, were given to first class passengers aboard British Caledonian Airlines. The pawns could be ordered seperately along with a box containing a compartment for each piece and an extra bottle of whiskey; I don't have the box. I came upon the set of pieces and pawns, empty, and a bit dirty. Most of them came clean, but there is some stubborn staining on the a few of the white figures. In general I haven't been a fan of such sets of "bottles masquerading as chessmen" but these fine porcelain figures are a charming exception. The figures themselves are lovely display pieces, but also the combination, if a bit anachronistic, creates a clear picture of "which piece is which" on a chessboard, and I feel these, even fully figural as they are, can be used practically as a chessmen without confusion. I've said before I feel this is the mark of a good design. I don't have any chessboard pictures in this set, though, only because I've gotten rid of my largest boards to save space, and I no longer have anything big enough to fit these figures.

White forces as English historical figures.

Black pieces as important Scots.

Royals.

Kings Henry VIII and Robert the Bruce.

Backs.

Detail of Henry's companion, a hunting dog.

Queen's Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I.
White Royals are father and daughter. Other matches in the set are even odder anachronisms.

Backs.

Bishops.

Thomas à Becket and John Knox.

Backs.

Knights.

Sirs William Wallace and Francis Drake.

Backs.

Rooks.

"Norman English Tower" and "Scottish Tower House."

Back (much the same as the fronts.)

Pawns (which are quite a bit rarer than the pieces these days.)
Apart from the color opposing sides are nearly identical but the Scotch side has the thistle plant climbing from the base where the English side sports the rose.

Bottoms.

Pawns. These never contained whiskey, but it appears some previous owner unstuck the label from the bottom of a major piece and pressed it onto this particular white pawn.

I'm not sure about the copper color residue on the right.

The Beneagles label.

Detail of piece bottom with maker and some kind of serial number.

This one is quite dirty and still has a bit of cork.

This match up actually makes some sense: (if the movie Braveheart has taught me anything)
Sir William Wallace alongside King Robert the Bruce.

Sir Francis Drake makes less sense next to Henry VIII, but I thought their similar costume, stature and pose made as good a picture as the other knight and king. Each figure is easily recognizable across the entire set, but there are similarities as well which give the set an organic feel as a whole.

The Thistle and the Rose.

Figural Sets

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