Friday 5 April 2024

Recent auctions Part 6 - Maryland Chess Review and The Amateur Chess Magazine

Two rare periodicals from the November auction of Klittich-Pfankuch:


Lot 1289  The Maryland Chess Review, edited and published by J.K. Hanshew, Frederick, Maryland, 1874 to 1875. 


Courtesy of Klittich-Pfankuch auction house


There has been some confusion over the extent of this periodical. Betts' Annotated Bibliography states Vol. 1 - Vol. 2 (No. 1-15), January 1874 - December 1875: No more published. 

Di Felice follows this in Chess Periodicals, but shortens the final date to March 1875 (i.e. 15 monthly issues from January 1874 to March 1875).

The current lot included the 12 issues of volume I and issues 16 to 20 of volume II up to August 1875, and I note that a University Place Bookshop catalogue from the 1930s included a run of this magazine up to issue 21.

However, two full years were completed with the final double issue nos. 23 & 24 for November and December 1875, and fortunately the whole lot has been digitized and is available at 

John G. White gave the full details of this magazine in the second of his articles on American Chess Periodicals on page 252 of American Chess Magazine Volume II, December 1898. 


The Cleveland Public Library and the New York Public Library have full sets of this magazine, the latter copy from the Frank J. Marshall Chess Collection. The Royal Library at the Hague seems to have the 12 issues of volume I and the first three issues only of volume II; perhaps this is where Betts was misled.


Courtesy of Klittich-Pfankuch auction house


This was a substantial and interesting magazine; the first volume numbered 500 pages while the second volume had 464. Each issue featured a number of annotated games, many problems and considerable reading matter in the form of educational articles, Chess Intelligence, Answers to Correspondents, Prominent Chessers, reviews of contemporary magazines, etc. A small amount of Draughts was added at the end of each issue. 

Despite the name, this was an international magazine with content drawn from the American continent and Europe.



A rare magazine which hardly ever comes on the market and this incomplete set sold for €550.


The Amateur Chess Magazine, edited by James T. C. Chatto and published by W. W. Morgan, London, 1872 to 1874.


This Monthly Miscellany of Genaral Literature survived for just over two years from June 1872 to June 1874; from 1873 the publishing frequency became erratic and from May 1873 the title changed to The Amateur reflecting the greatly reduced chess content. 


Compared to the previous item, The Maryland Chess Review, this is a disappointing chess magazine with a gradually diminishing chess content until it was almost non-existent. The content of the 12 page issues (later issues covering two or more months had extra pages) was of limited interest to chess players; often with just one game and a few problems, including some of Chatto's own compositions, before moving on to the literary matter of charades, conundrums, double acrostics, stories etc. 

There were also some brief notices of contemporary chess magazines and Chatto declared that The Dubuque Chess Journal was "without a single exception, the most complete and altogether best journal that has yet come under our notice." Later magazines included correspondence and controversy over some plagiarised chess problems and other puzzles that had been published in The Amateur. 

The editor, James Thomas Chipperfield Chatto is, however, of some interest and Timothy Harding has carried out extensive research on him which he published in British Chess Literature to 1914, McFarland, Jefferson 2018. Chatto was barely 18 years old when he  launched The Amateur Chess Magazine and discontinued this shortly before he joined Cambridge University in the Michaelmas term of 1874. Chatto, who was ordained into the Church of England in 1879, also edited several chess columns during his life, but not always with great success. 

Although the magazine lasted for just over two years there were only 13 issues; six in volume I, five in volume II and two in volume III. The later issues covered two, three or even four months; there were 224 pages in total.

The first magazine included chess only, but this was gradually replaced over time with other games, puzzles and humdrum literary articles and stories. The last two issues had just 6 pages of chess between them out of a total of 48 pages, and the magazine was discontinued without notice in June 1874, although future articles had been promised.

In the June-July issue of 1873 Chatto announced that the chess department of The Amateur would in future be conducted by R. W. Johnson of Lancaster. 

It seems that both Cleveland and KB are lacking the final issue of this periodical, KB does not even record Volume II for 1873 in its online catalogue. This is surprising as at least four complete sets have been sold at auction over the last 10 years (all from the dispersal of Lothar Schmid's collection), at varying prices from €150 (bargain) to €540, so both of these major libraries could have completed their holdings.  

This particular copy is from the Rimington Wilson library and each volume is bound separately in contempory half leather, unlike the other copies which are bound in one book. Each volume is signed by J. W. Rimington Wilson (no hyphen) and this lot sold for €460.



It appears that only volume I and the issue for February 1874 have been digitized, and these are available at google books.


More rarities next time.



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