CategoriesRegency Chess Co. News

What makes a design classic?

Throughout history humans have been creating things. In the beginning we did this to survive,  in more recent times we’ve seen the rate of creativity and design increase exponentially with thousands of items being made for a myriad of purposes. Very occasionally someone creates something that we refer to as a ‘classic’ but it doesn’t happen very often. The design process is usually one of evolution where the first version is primitive and subsequent improvements make the item better and more refined. What I’m referring to are those rare cases where someone creates something new, original and special, and gets it perfect first time round.

What invariably happens is that these design classics become the archetype of the genre they represent. They become the ‘Hoover’ of the vacuum cleaners, the one that people instantly recognise,  the archetypal version that ends up defining the whole genre of products they come from.

Here are a few examples of when the designers of products got it right first time and created an iconic design classic & a piece of human history.

Fender Stratocaster

1. The Fender Stratocaster Guitar

In 1954 Leo Fender released the Stratocaster guitar onto the open market in America. The modern design shocked many at the time and it initially received large amounts of criticism from the music industry. The proportions, curves and lines were all completely pleasing to the human eye, it looked like a thing of beauty. When people played it they realised it wasn’t a passing fad, but a serious instrument that seriously rocked! It was versatile, robust, stayed in tune, didn’t feedback, light weight, and was equally at home being used in Country & Western as it was Heavy Metal, although it did take some years for Heavy Metal to be born, when it was the Stratocaster (Strat for short) was there in the hands of the pioneers of this classic music.

The Fender company grew massively on the back of the sales of the Stratocaster and in 1965 the company was sold to the corporate giant CBS. They set about making ‘improvements’ to the guitar very gradually and over the ensuing years it morphed into quite a different being. By the late 70s it was totally different in feel and sound from those early 50s and 60s examples thanks to a forced evolutionary process of ‘improvement’. Fender were struggling to see why famous guitar players of the era like Mark Knophler of Dire Straights, were happy to play a Strat on television, but only old ones.

By the early 80s the Strat was becoming less and less fashionable and sales were dwindling. Then something remarkable happened. Over in Japan a factory started making copies of Fender guitars, the inevitable law suits followed but one thing stood out. The Japanese weren’t making copies of modern Fenders Stratocasters, they were creating very faithful reproductions of the versions from the 1950s and 1960s. The players loved them and before Fender could get their lawyers deployed thousands of Japanese copies were heading onto American and European shores.

It actually worked out well for Fender in the end. They began their own manufacture operation in Japan and were forced to wise up to the fact that what players wanted was the original design with 1954 specifications. Today Fender sell thousands of Stratocasters every year and offer faithful reproductions of the early versions. The guitar remains an icon and part of music history, definitely a design classic!

Fun facts about the Fender Stratocaster

  • Early Stratocasters were painted with automotive paint from the Du Pont Company
  • In the late 60s the guitar was set to be discontinued until it was made popular again by Jimi Hendrix
  • The superiority of the early guitars created demand for ‘vintage instruments’ & by the mid 80s ‘Vintage Guitars’ became it’s own industry
  • Early Strats from the 50s can fetch £10,000s if in original condition.
  • During their unpopular phase Eric Clapton bought ten of them and gave them to friends.


A Staunton Chess Set
A Staunton Chess Set

2. The Staunton Chess Set

This one goes back to 1849 when a champion chess player, Howard Staunton, had become fed up with playing international matches using obscure designs of foreign chess set. He was convinced that using an obscure ornate set was affecting the outcome of the games, often because the players were having to think about which piece was which. He wanted an international standard, a set that everyone could instantly recognise and a set where you could never get the pieces confused with one another. But he also wanted all the pieces to look like they came from the same family, a common ‘look & feel’.

A London based games manufacturer in conjunction with a man called Nathanial Cook created what was to become the perfect chess set. It took it’s design cues from London Architecture of the time and ticked every box that Staunton wanted. Upon seeing the set he immediately endorsed it. It took off and became an instant hit among chess players. What was also remarkable was how the design was such that it could easily be mass produced, something it shares with the Fender Stratocaster.

When most of you think of a chess set the image your brain goes to first will inevitably be the Staunton set. The horse for the knight, the castle for the rook, the bishops mitre, the crowned queen and the king with a cross on his head. Prior to 1849 this design didn’t exist which seems hard to imagine. What was remarkable about the design was how it was beautifully proportioned, each piece was instantly recognizable but they clearly all came from the same set. There was no way you could mistake a pawn for a bishop, or a rook.

Nathaniel Cooks Original Design
Nathaniel Cooks Original Design

Since it’s creation the set has been copied thousands of times, numerous new versions created, some of which really take the design to a new and interesting place. But the blueprint always remains the same and somehow changes to the original design never look quite right. Today the Staunton set is still by far the most popular design, it’s no longer made by the company in London but versions of it remain in use and have become the standard for chess associations and tournaments across the world. The original sets from the 1800s attract high antique values and remain very collectable.

Fun facts about the Staunton Chess Set

  • There is no company called ‘Staunton’ that makes chess sets
  • The original manufacturers of the set are still in business, but they longer make the sets themselves
  • The knights were carved by hand in the 1800s and still are today! all other pieces can be turned on a lathe


The Coca Cola Bottle
The Coca Cola Bottle

3. The Coca Cola bottle

Back in 1915 the Coca Cola Company wanted to re bottle their product and make it distinctive, copycat brands were being set up and they wanted their product to stand out and be unique. They commissioned The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana to design a new bottle and they created what’s now referred to as ‘The Contour Bottle”. The original brief for the bottle was “a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was.”

A Root employee by the name of Earl R. Dean was inspired by the shape of cocoa pod and created a prototype that initially won approval but was too wide in the mid section for easy production and distribution. The bloated mid section was slimmed down and the design that we all know and love today was born. Dean was offered a $500 bonus for his work but turned it down in favor of the offer of a lifetime job at the company.

By 1920 the Coca Cola company had adopted the new bottle design as it’s main vessel for their dark, sweet drink.

Deans Original Design
Deans Original Design

Fun Facts about the Coca Cola bottle

  • The patent for the bottle was filed on December 25th, it was nicknamed “The Christmas Bottle”
  • In 1944 the Coke bottle was the subject of a landmark legal case after one exploded
  • The bottle designers wanted to base the initial design on a coca leaf or a kola nut, but couldn’t find pictures of either

Today the Coca Cola bottle is one of the most universally recognized items on earth.





Design ClassicsOne striking thing all three of these items have in common is their shape. To a certain extent they all feature the lines and curves of the human form. Could it be that one of the reasons we are naturally drawn to these iconic products is their similarity to our own natural image?



New & Exciting Brand Added To Regency Chess Website – Purling of London

As the years have gone on we’ve added more and more products to our website. It’s sometimes hard to believe that all this started back in 2008 with a handful of wooden chess sets. We now boast hundreds of lovely products and a worldwide reputation that does us proud. The list of premium brands that we stock continues to grow and a recent addition to this was Purling Of London. Purling is a relatively new company set up by the marketing genius Simon Perkis. What Simon has done is take a design classic from the mid 1800s and create a thoroughly modern contemporary product that is putting luxury chess sets back on the trendy map.






The essence of the Purling products is the painting of the sets. The range of Bold chess we now stock are all classic and traditional Staunton chessmen, but each piece has been expertly painted and buffed to a high gloss in a range of gorgeous colours. The painted theme goes a step further with their ‘Art Chess’ where unpainted pieces are given to known artists to decorate in their own style. These unique and fine sets are finding their way into some of the worlds best known interior design shops.


The Regency Chess Company has earned a reputation for selling some of the finest luxury chess products on the market. We’re delighted to have added these to our range. Check out our selection : Purling Of London Chess Sets




CategoriesNew Products

Official Lewis Chessmen Now Available In Mid Sized Package

The Official Lewis Chessmen
The Official Lewis Chessmen

We’re delighted to be stocking the latest set of Lewis chessmen from the National Museum Scotland. For years we’ve been selling their original set with huge success. While the pieces have always been the very best quality one downside of the original set was it’s size and scale. Due the width of the king and queen it meant a huge chess board was needed. The smallest board we could get away with was a 20 inch slim border walnut chessboard, but typically people purchased them on a huge 24 inch board.


See our entire range of Lewis Chess Sets Here


The new smaller versions still retail all the detail and high quality feel but will fit on chess boards from 16 to 18 inches. So those of you who have been wanting to enjoy the very best in quality Lewis chessmen can now do so on a scale that suits you. The original large pieces can be instantly identified by their distinctive black gift box packaging. The new mid sized set comes in a beautiful red box.

Boxed Official Lewis Chessmen
Boxed Official Lewis Chessmen

For quite a few years The Regency Chess Company has been the UK’s best stockist of Lewis chess products. We sell all the versions of this set from the tiny 9 inch Celtic set, the mass produced SAC version, the British museum version and of course the prize winning National Museum Scotland version. We don’t know of any better selection of Lewis chessmen available anywhere in Europe. All sets are in stock and available for instant dispatch.

CategoriesRegency Chess Co. News

Job Vacancy – We’re recruiting again

Job Title: Ecommerce Manager – Retail

Location: Frome, Somerset

Salary: £20,000 plus bonus

Position: Permanent/Full Time

Sector: IT & Internet


An exciting opportunity has arisen for an ambitious Online/Ecommerce Manager to join a leading chess and backgammon retailer in Frome, Somerset. The successful Online/Ecommerce Manager will work full time, earning a salary of £20,000 plus an annual bonus (up to £2,000), and will ideally have previous experience in ecommerce retailing.


As Online/Ecommerce Manager you will be responsible for managing inbound sales and advice calls, stock control, ordering and maintaining stock levels, social media engagement, sales order processing and keeping online sales channels up to date. Reporting to the company’s management team, the successful Online/Ecommerce Manager will also be responsible for:


  • Continuing the company’s success in customer satisfaction
  • Manning the sales and customer service phone line
  • Maintaining online sales platforms
  • Writing and updating website content
  • Maintaining stock control systems
  • Dealing with suppliers and ordering stock


The successful Online/Ecommerce Manager should have demonstrable experience in a similar retail/ecommerce environment, while a genuine interest in chess and/or backgammon would also be an advantageous, but not essential. You should be enthusiastic, organised, and able to work under your own steam to take an active role in growing sales and developing business. The successful Online/Ecommerce Manager will also possess the following skills and experience:


  • High level of IT literacy
  • Retail or customer service experience
  • Good knowledge of the internet and its uses
  • MS Word/Excel proficient
  • Excellent spelling and grammar – in order to write web content to a high standard
  • Experience with stock control systems (desirable)
  • Experience with social media platforms (desirable)
  • Knowledge of e-commerce retailing and online marketing (desirable)
  • Web design and photography skills (desirable)


If you have a proven history in retail, ecommerce, website management and/or customer service and are interested in this exciting Online/Ecommerce Manager position, based in Frome, Somerset, please apply by submitting your CV along with a cover letter that explains why you believe you are suitable for the Online/Ecommerce Manager position. Please email CV to [email protected]

We will not infringe your individual rights to privacy & prosperity by asking you for any kind of criminal records check. However past employer references may be requested.


CategoriesRegency Chess Co. News

Christmas 2014 Opening Times – Information

A very Merry Christmas to all our customers. It’s been another bumper year for Regency Chess. Below are our opening times for the Christmas and New Year Period. Please note that our offices and sales departments will remain closed for most days while our warehouse and order dispatch will be working.

Dec 24     – Closed
Dec 25th – Closed
Dec 26th – Office Closed – Warehouse Open
Dec 27th – Closed
Dec 28th – Closed
Dec 29th – Office Closed – Warehouse Open
Dec 30th – Office Closed – Warehouse Open
Dec 31st  – Office Closed – Warehouse Open
Jan 1st     – Closed
Jan 2nd   – Closed
Jan 3rd    – Closed
Jan 4th    – Closed
Jan 5th    – Open as usual
Jan 6th    – Open as usual