Nearly all humans strive for the finer things in life. It is not materialistic to say that higher quality items, especially with crafts, are more valuable and enjoyable to own. High quality crafts have greater attention to detail and use better materials which is evident in its finish. Many people also enjoy making crafts on their own to show off their creativity and unique artisanal skills. Sites like Craftster allow craft enthusiasts to share expertise and discuss their relevant interests. Crafts are a fulfilling combination of art and science, creativity and technique and oftentimes tell stories in the case of folk art. While crafts are mainly collected today on their artistic merits, they typically also serve a utilitarian or functional purpose aside from aesthetics such as chess sets.
Chess sets represent the aforementioned finer things in life and are perceived to be classy and cultured. Therefore, the quality of the set must match the perception and be equally classy and cultured. An emphasis should be placed on the quality of the materials used for every part of the chess set and if you plan on using the set for competitive play, whether the pieces are the recommended size by major chess federations.
There are many factors involved with buying a chess set and much research should be done before any purchase is made. Grandmaster and five-time US Chess champion Larry Evans provides this advice for buying a set, "Make sure the one you buy is easy on the eye, felt-based, and heavy (weighted). The men should be constructed so they don't come apart. ... The regulation board used by the U. S. Chess Federation is green and buff — never red and black. However there are several good inlaid [wood] boards on the market. Avoid cheap equipment. Chess offers a lifetime of enjoyment for just a few dollars well spent at the outset." The last sentence is key because it is so true. A simple chess set can give you years of endless enjoyment so it is important to choose a good one. Find a set that meets all of your specifications and has an aesthetic that you enjoy. Do not skimp on the chess set and buy a cheap board because you will regret it in the long-run.
If you are looking begin or expand your chess set collection, the crucial factors are authenticity and quality. As with many dealers, it is important to find a trusted source for collectibles with a devotion to providing high-quality collectibles. One of the most well-known manufacturers of limited edition chess sets is Natraja. Natraja commissions a select number of limited edition chess sets to world renowned sculptor, Avtarjeet Dhanjal. Dhanjal is notable sculptor based in Britain and originally from India. While Dhanjal’s background has mostly been in large sculptures and exhibitions he also provides a line of limited edition hand carved chess sets. Dhanjal, himself the son of wood carver, collaborated with master craftsman Bhupinder Singh and his son, Mandeep Saggu to create a series of five designs, with only 100 sets per design available to collectors. Natraja also devotes two sets per design for museum collections and another two for Natraja’s own collection. Each set is made from boxwood and ebony or boxwood and rosewood in themes such as King Arthur, Marc Anthony and even sea horses. The set includes a special leather bounded box for storage and a signed certificate of authenticity. Of course, in the world of collecting authenticity is the name of the game. The outlets that Natraja’s sets are sold in are limited to protect consumer’s interests and ensure quality. The only place to get Natraja chess sets is at www.natraja.com. This prevents a major issue with collectibles of counterfeits and knockoffs being sold at non-authorized dealers to unassuming customers.
There is no substitute for quality and in the end the counterfeits prove themselves to be inferior. If you want the full enjoyment of a handcrafted high quality chess set, then you should stick with the well known players such as Natraja. It will pay off in the long-run when your rare chess set looks as good as new because of its superior craftsmanship.