The "Paasch Collection"

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A brief history; These are the first pieces I ever carved and though I’ve been in the jewelry field since 1967 this was a skill I honestly didn’t believe I possessed. When Christopher Cole commissioned the 1st set in August 1973 I thought it best to subcontract the carving of the figures to an artist whom I believed to have sufficient talent to accomplish our goals in design and rendition. Unfortunately the pieces he carved were entirely unacceptable so I was left with a (very) short deadline and no apparent option but to attempt the carving myself. I spent a good week at the library researching thirteenth/fourteenth century European costuming, armament and religion. I then did rough sketches and posed friends and family for photographs to get the anatomy close and started carving. The theme I chose was a cross section of European dress. The King being Nordic, the Queen –Spanish, the Bishop Anglican/Catholic (still wearing the same vestments at that time), the Knight in this set is English, the Castle Germanic, and the pawns are Welsh foot soldiers.

Now at this point it’s important to note the context for the set’s commissioning. As best as I remember private parties were not allowed to hold gold in any form other than art pieces and rare coinage. This had been the law in the U.S. since 1933. At December 31, 1973 the law would change once again allowing private ownership but since bullion was not available to speculate with Mr. Cole decided to hold his investment capitol in an art object, this chess set. The presumption was that the (then) $39.00 an ounce price would rapidly increase to over $200.00 an ounce, which it did the 1st day of January 1974. So my problem was to create, carve, finish and deliver by December 31st. it’s all history now, mission accomplished and the sets went on to have lives of their own.

The Paasch Collection” 14K gold chess set , no. 1, 1973
Paasch Collection (2) Sterling silver chess set, no.12, 2008