Louis Persinger Personal Chess Items
Mechanics Institute Chessmen, Circa 1915
Offered here is a very accurate reproduction of the Mechanics Institute chessmen owned by Louis Persinger. The King stands 3.6” tall with a 2” diameter base, which is about equivalent to a Club-size Staunton set with a 4-3/8” King with its finial. The sets are available in Boxwood and Golden Rosewood, Ebonized Boxwood, Indian Rosewood or Ebony.
History of the Chess Pieces
The original set used as the master was obtained from his wife, Joan Persinger (Witzmann-Graul). The Chessmen used and sold by the Mechanics Institute Chess Club, many of which were lost or destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. A new supply was purchased by the Mechanics Institute Chess Club in 1915. We belief that the House of Staunton reproduction is modeled on one of the original sets, based on the shape of the bishops.
The current information is that these chessmen were made by Joe Clark, but as of this writing, his association with the Mechanics Institute Chess Club is unsubstantiated. The wood he used to fabricate the original chessmen was acquired from a naval shipyard that made ship's propellers from Lignum Vitae and Rosewood or Cocobolo. These sets were used on some of the tables for the 1916 Capablanca thirty-board Simultaneous Exhibition.
Louis Persinger was born on February 11, 1887 in Rochester, Illinois. At age 28, Persinger became Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony. Persinger was also an accomplished pianist.
Persinger was an avid chess player. In the American Chess Bulletin of 1918, page 233, there is an article about Persinger forming a chess club for musicians in San Francisco. It is almost certain that he was aware of the Capablanca Exhibition, but there is no record of his playing in the event. Louis Persinger died December 31, 1966, in New York City.
|About Frank Camaratta|
Frank Camaratta, the Maestro, has been involved in the World of Chess for over 60 years. Initially a player, having achieved the rank of International Master, Frank broadened his horizons, involving himself in chess promotion & governance, chess collecting and chess design research. He also has produced several chess-related patents, the most significant of which is Time Delay. Frank is today considered the foremost authority of Jaques and other Staunton and pre-Staunton chessmen, having written numerous articles on the subject.
Mr. Camaratta founded The House of Staunton in 1990, primarily collecting and dealing in antique chess equipment. It was during that period that inspiration struck to instill Old world craftsmanship and pride into present-day chessmen. In pursuit of that goal, Frank retired from his position as an Engineering Director on the Space Shuttle Program in 1998 to devote full time to making his vision a reality, which he did after spending years of research and study in to Staunton and pre-Staunton designs. The House of Staunton has emerged as the World’s leading producer of Pre-Staunton and Staunton chessmen, as well as numerous artistically-inspired sets, which are unmatched in design, accuracy and craftsmanship.