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Medieval ‘lost’ chess piece sells for £735,000

Have you always suspected that the ancient tea cosy you inherited from your great grandmother could be worth thousands?

Well for one family, this odd scenario became reality when a chess piece stored in a draw turned out to be worth nearly three-quarters of a million pounds.

The unassuming chess piece was bought for £5 in 1964 by an antiques dealer and had passed down through the family.

They had no idea about it’s special significance until they took it to Sotheby’s auction house to be valued.

To their utter amazement the warder - equivalent to a rook on a modern chessboard – was discovered to be part of a set known as the Lewis Chessmen that was made from walrus ivory in the late 12th or early 13th century.

Having looked after it for more than 50 years, the antiques dealer’s family were “quite amazed” by it’s value and decided to put it up for auction where it achieved a price of £735,000.

The Lewis Chessmen was discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831, only 93 pieces were found and it was unknown where the remainder of the set lay.

It is thought that the pieces may have been buried by a merchant to avoid taxes after being shipwrecked.


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