Cast Iron Chess Sets

Cast Iron Chess Sets

Cast foundries have been casting iron for hundreds of years, producing oven plates, fences, and other items but were not able to reproduce very fine details due to the techniques available at the time. Only after 1784 (First Artistic Iron Castings in Lauchhammer, Saxony) and throughout the 19th century, iron cast objects reached a phenomenal richness of detail and precision coupled with great popularity. 
Internationally it became known as "Berlin Iron" or "Fer de Berlin". In 1851, during the Crystal Palace World Exhibition, many such objects were shown.
Most of the castings are not signed and it is extremely difficult to assign a particular piece to the producing foundry. Even more difficult is the identification of artists and sculptures that generated the models in the first place.
Some of the large and renowned foundries as well as numerous smaller ones have made chess set and in some cases boards and tables as well. The main themes were usually historical battles, animals and the like, as they were popular during the 19th century.

E.G. Zimmermann Sets, Hanau (Germany)

Like no other foundry at the time, the E.G. Zimmermann factory in Hanau, Germany, started very early to sign its products with the company name and often included the name of the artist. Today, we know five different chess sets that bear the Zimmermann mark. These are Germans vs Romans, The Crusades, Animals (No. 11225), The 30-Year War (No. 11479) and Frederic I Barbarossa vs. Henry the Lion (No. 14687). Source: Chess Collectors International, 12th Convention, Berlin, May 2006.

Modern Italian Iron and Copper Set

Made by Giovanna Bolognini’s chess pieces, made of iron with silver inserts for whites and copper for blacks (King H 10.2 and 9.8 cm). Created by the Bergamo sculptor in 2005 for the Milly Pozzi Contemporary Art Gallery in Como. Source: CCI Italy.

‘The Game of the World’ by Gio Pomodoro, Italy 

‘Il Gioco del Mondo”, made by Giò Pomodoro in 1981. Set of silver and gilded metal with chessboard;  N. 44 of 120 specimens plus 10 author proofs (King’s Height 4.5 cm). Source: CCI Italy.