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SERIOUS COLLECTORS OF CHESS SETS! I'm offering this all original, authentic and very early chess set by William Francis Drueke that dates to about the early 1920's (or perhaps may be even earlier.) The time frame is supported by the best historical documentation available, in addition to all the physical characteristics of the items being offered.

This "First Generation" set is of hand carved wood (not sure if Maple or Boxwood) - the King measuring about 3-1/4 inches tall and a base of 1-1/4 inches in diameter. It is held in an Oak box that has box joint construction and a slide top. There is an ink stamp on the underside of the box that reads:

"ONE SET - No. 3


American Made


CONDITION: The light Queen has a small chip off a stud of the crown. Most pieces show wear from use and some paint/finish loss. The Felt is heavily worn on most pieces and some felt pads have bits of loss. The box has about a 2 inch loss of the slide lid rail on each side (forward), the back stop is missing and there are other signs of wear from use. The slide lid has a paper label from the "National Travel Club.".

NOTE: I have included images that show pieces from a set made in France (of about the same era), next to the (larger size), Drueke's set being offered. This is for comparison only! The set from France will not accompany this lot.

This set appears to be near identical to a set shown and described in a flyer that was put into circulation by the Drueke Company in 1920. [SEE PHOTO IMAGE #2] The only differences being that the Bishop of set No. 3 shown in that flyer does not have an elongated cap as those in this set do, and, the Kings in this set are actually a bit under the 3-1/2 inches in height as described in the flyer.

I am not sure (nor have I found any detailed references), as to how and when the Kings were measured at the time of manufacture. I will assume it was after the Felt pad was applied to the bottom, therefore allowing for the small difference to be the result of the Felt being worn down. In any case, the overall dimensions (being as close as they are), physical similarities and the original wooden box that is most definitely of very early 1900's era, would place the origin of this set well within the realm of acceptance of being the earliest-fully intact Drueke's Chess set known at this time.

Secondary to dating it, the package, as a whole, is a historical snapshot of an era of the Drueke Company that, in fact, did not exist until now since there exists no other images of Drueke's Chess sets in an early wooden box (although mentioned in the 1920 flyer), with an ink stamped description.

Additionally, after William Drueke struck a deal to work for Al Stickley (A&J.G.Stickley Furniture Company), in 1926, he phased out the Dreuke Company and his operation of producing Chessmen ceased. However, due to a contract dispute the men parted ways shortly thereafter. Then, when the market crashed in 1929, William Drueke lost his investments and took jobs selling hospital furniture and doing photography for several years to provide for his family.

1932; William Drueke started producing Chess Sets again in the family home and named the business Wm. F. Drueke & Sons-later becoming Wm. F Drueke & Sons Inc.. It was during this period that he imported chess pieces from France, and with his children and two sisters, the French pieces were refinished, repackaged and sold under the Drueke label, thus establishing the Second Generation of Drueke Chessmen.

By 1933, William Drueke moved his operations to a rented space in a nearby building and then again in 1940, he moved the business to the "Grand Rapids Casket Co. building and on June 9, 1941 he filed a patent application for his unique, Octagon shaped Chessmen. The patent, granted August 12, 1941, established the "Third Generation Drueke Chessmen."

In the 1950's the company began making the Fourth generation of Drueke Chessmen of molded plastic - of which are still being produced to this day - although the company having been sold to the Carrom Company in 1990.

References: "William F. Drueke" by Cathie Bloom; "The Dreuke Company - Chess Designed in America" by Duncan Pohl; "Drueke" - The Carrom Company.

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    Returns not accepted for antique items unless the condition of the item was clearly misrepresented, seller clearly failed to properly secure item in shipping which caused damages and to which buyer must provide clear and convincing evidence, buyer received wrong item than that which was purchased.

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