Artifact Spotlight — 150th Anniversary Chess Set

April 1, 2023

This chess set was created by Studio Anne Carlton, for the Sesquicentennial anniversary of the Siege and Battle of the Alamo. The studio specialized in unique and sometimes historically themed sets, some of which include the American Revolution and US Civil War.

In May 1986, Managing Director of Studio Anne Carlton, M. A. Schofield, wrote a letter to Alamo Curator, Mr. Steve W. Beck, wishing to gift the Alamo with a unique chess to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo. Curator Beck would write back that the set made it safely across the Atlantic from Hull, England, to San Antonio, Texas in June 1986 and was to be placed on display in the Museum Gift Shop.

Front of box of a chess set with Battle of the Alamo chess pieces
Open chess board with Battle of the Alamo chess pieces placed on both sides

Each set piece is hand cast in pewter and then hand painted, the game board is of an inlaid wooden style.

Studio Anne Carlton also provided a description for the pieces:

King – The Lone Star flag, Flag of the Republic of Texas
Queen – Col. William Barret Travis, Texas Regular Infantry
Bishop – Col. James Bowie, Texas Volunteer Corps
Knight – Col. David Crockett, Tennessee Volunteer Company
Castle – Cannon
Pawn – Texan Volunteer

King – The national flag of The Republic of Mexico with Drum
Queen – Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, President of Mexico
Bishop – Mexican Infantry Officer
Knight – Officer Mexican Border Cavarly
Castle – Cannon
Pawn – Private Mexican Infantry, “Activo De San Luis Potosi”

The chess set and board were donated by Director M.A. Schofield, on behalf of Studio Anne Carleton in 1986, and are on display at the new Ralston Family Collections Center, which is now open to the public.

Five chess pieces in a row - a cannon, two soldiers, a man on horseback, and the Texas flag over a drum
Texan pieces
Five chess pieces on black squares - a cannon, two soldiers, a man on horseback, and a flag on a drum
Mexican pieces