The Nature of Middle-earth
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Barbara Remington made a chess set

Aug 7, 2020 (edited)
2020/8/7 3:13:38 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia

I was reminded, while I was working on my Lion article about Barbara Remington and her (in)famous Tolkien illustrations made for Ballantine books back in the sixties, that she made the cutest plushy (soft stuffed) chess set based on The Lord of the Rings. She made these solely for herself in the late 1960s, though I believe they were eventually sold to a private collector around 2006 or 2007. [Update - the chess set was never sold and is still a part of her estate collection]

Pieces included Sauron (Black King), Shelob (Black Queen), Hobbits and orcs as pawns, Gandalf, Ringwraiths and many more.

[Update] Lots of additional information added in the replies, be sure to read through those if you are interested.


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Aug 7, 2020
2020/8/7 15:53:21 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Another exhibition of hers took place in 2013 at Marywood University, for those interested. ... her+Sketchbook+Adventures
Aug 7, 2020 (edited)
2020/8/7 16:01:33 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Here is Ed Meskys' revew of the chess set, as published in Mythlore V3n1 (1973):

The set was truly magnificent. Sauron was the black king Shelob the black queen, the Nazgul King was one of the. . . I've forgotten now, Bishops or Knights.. . and Isengard was one of the black rooks. On the white side a hobbit hole was one of the rooks, Aragorn was the king, etc. Each piece was very intricately hand made and was truly wonderful. I especially liked the empty hood on the Nazgul King with the two holes in the back to let the light thru and represent eyes. An unbelievable amount of thought and work had gone into each piece. For reasons of safety these are normally kept upstairs and shown only in photographs and I was truly greatful for her allowing me to handle them in order to fully appreciate them.

Meŝkys, Ed (1973) "Green Dragon," Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature: Vol. 3: No. 1 , Article 8. Available at:

Aug 7, 2020
2020/8/7 16:24:46 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I've spoken with a close connection of Barbara's estate, and now know that her art is being archived and handled by Springville Schoolhouse Art Studios gallery in Pennsylvania, including this chess set - it was never sold.
Aug 19, 2020
2020/8/19 12:21:30 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
What is the reference I've missed to the 1960s as the date she made these?
Aug 19, 2020
2020/8/19 16:17:48 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Still looking, I thought I saw something more definitive than the below but now I can't find it again.

The Mythlore article dates the set to at latest August of 1972, when Ed was shown it during his visit to the Boggle Store, and they definitely date after her 1965 work for the Ballantine covers as that was her first exposure to Tolkien, so "circa 1965-1972" is a more accurate summation than my brief "late 1960s" note in the post. Ed's post in Mythlore implies that they have existed for a while ("normally kept upstairs" etc.).
Aug 19, 2020
2020/8/19 16:32:44 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Not definitive, but here is a New York Times article reviewing her Boggle Shop and stuffed animals/toys from August of 1970 - no mention is made of Lord of the Rings or Tolkien or Chess set, but she was definitely in business and selling these types of creations at this time. ... ml?searchResultPosition=3

Far down on the East Side is another purveyor of hand made toys, the Boggle Shop, at 194 East Third Street, between Avenues A and B.

The shop carries a smattering of various things—some old furniture, some vintage clothing (including things for children), hanging paper lamps made by Barbara Remington, a children's book illustrator who is coproprietor of the shop with her husband, Edward Preston, a writer. Also there are patchwork pillows, a large collection of drift wood (50 cents to $5 per piece) and wool yarn wound into the shape of a diamond. Called ochos dios, these wool items are Mexican charms one hangs on the door to ward off the evil eye. They are $1 and are made by Miss Remington's mother in Minnesota.

Most of the stuffed toys are made by Miss Remington, and in the shop's zoo are a green corduroy frog at $7, a stuffed cloth bug at $8, a few lions at the same price—along with a green velvet turtle, and some dear little stuffed lumps with big blue eyes and fluffy tails that turn out to be rabbits ($3.50).
Aug 19, 2020
2020/8/19 21:52:45 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thank you. I thought I saw a date too but cannot find now.
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