The House of Staunton Review

When it comes to chess stores online, the reputation of the House of Staunton is as solid as they come. Whenever you search for chessboards, it is hard not to come across a product made by this store. In this review, we are going to take a good look at all the things you need to know about the store.

We will cover special deals, coupon deals and other money savers offered by the store.

The store advertises as the manufacturers of the world’s finest chess products. A quick look through the customer reviews and chess pundit opinions make it hard to disagree with that description.

Their reputation is unparalleled. Their products have made appearances on famous movies and TV shows like The Hoax, The West Wing, The Luhzin Defense and Wild Wild West among others. The chess piece design they came up with was used by the gaming company Ubisoft as the model for the chessmen in their game Chessmaster: Grandmaster Illusion.

Every year, they provide the equipment for The United States Chess Championships.

To learn more, we need to look at all the details we can find. We are going to put them to the test with facts. Do they live up to their reputation? Where do they shine? What can they improve? Let’s get to it.

The History of the House of Staunton Pattern

One of the stories behind the pattern is that in the fall of 1849, the London chess company John Jacques put up the Staunton Pattern for sale to the public. As the story goes, Nathaniel Cook invented the design a few months before the sale. He named it after the self-proclaimed chess champion at the time, Howard Staunton. 

The other story says that the design was actually conceived by John Jacques himself. According to his family, he was the brother in law of Nathaniel Cook.

It is likely that the design was invented as a way of filling a need that had arisen at the time. Players complained of impractical chess piece designs that were being used at the time. Jacques, being the owner of the chess shop, would have been tasked with making different and multiple iterations of the design to compensate for this problem.

​The New Design

Jacques decided that he had to do something different. So, he crafted something different and this involved some very important edits that included:

  • Stripping the existing pieces if the ‘bells and whistles’ decorations that were prone to breaking off.
  • He made the sets more expensive to make.
  • He made the base wider.
  • Lead was added to a hollowed out part each piece to give it a very comfortable weight in a player’s hand.

With these changes made, he had a design that was not only simplified but also elegant and one that appealed to players who interacted with his products.

Historically, this is the point at which Nathaniel Cook steps into the scene. He had not been in the chess business at all. It is not likely that he designed the pieces but the design is registered in his name. Cook was the marketing man and Jacques was all about ideas.

They convinced Howard Staunton to lend his name to the pattern they made. The plan worked. The sets went to market and were popular. They have been popular ever since, to this day.

The New House of Staunton

The design is a different story from the company we know as the House of Staunton. The renowned chess player Frank Camarrata who was nicknamed ‘The Maestro’ founded the company in 1990.

As a collector of antique chess sets and an expert on Staunton and Pre-Staunton designs, he took several years researching and collecting the historical chess sets. He started his own business by focusing on the production of chess sets that gave players the same feel as those of John Jacques.

This attention to detail was the selling point of Staunton designs. The Knight is the trickiest piece they make. It has a unique Parthenon frieze posture. It is also the most unique piece that the Staunton makes.

In addition to bringing back the old designs, Frank consistently works on original designs for new chess sets with new details. He was the first person to find errors in the registration diss found in the Jacques Staunton sets from the 1850s.

He has gone to great lengths to catalog the labels of the chessmen Jacques uses to save the collectors who might fall prey to fraudulent people looking to pawn fake Stanton chess sets. With that kind of passion, you can see why the company has such respect.

The Reputation Of The House of Staunton

This is one of the best known names in the chess product makers world. Their reputation both online and offline is solid as a rock. Independent stores sell their set, both online and offline. It is true what they say. They truly are the manufacturers of the world’s finest chess products.

Being rated this highly is a great thing but it might also backfire. Customers pay a lot of money to own a Staunton Chess set and when they do not get what they have been promised, the company might come under fire.

It is safe to say that this has not happened to the House of Staunton yet.

A Haven of Variety

When picking something to play with from a chess store, a customer wants to be presented with many options to see if something will call out to them. The House of Staunton does not fail when it comes to this. They have an overwhelming catalog on the website with all kinds of sets.

They specialize in wooden chess sets but they offer just about everything in every category.

You will find:

  • Luxury chess pieces and sets
  • Plastic chess pieces
  • Themed chess sets
  • Chess boxes
  • Chess bags
  • Chess boards
  • Chess clocks
  • Chess computers
  • Chess tables
  • Chess score books
  • Tournament chess sets
  • Chess software
  • Chess books
  • Chess DVDs and Videos

This list is in no way complete. To get the full glory of what they offer, one needs only visit the website and peruse through the categories to enjoy the sight.

Some of The House of Staunton’s Most Famous Flagship Products and Series

The House of Stainton has a sizeable number of flagship products and exclusive product series that are hand designed by The Maestro himself.

The Series

1. The Frank Camaratta Signature Series

This series is a high-end, luxury series with a price tag to match. All the products in The Camaratta Signature Series are hand carved artistic pieces. They make them from the finest woods like Antique Boxwood and Ebony. They all have a piece with The Maestro’s embossed autograph/signature on them.

In this series, The House of Staunton’s patented new weighting system lends perfection to the sets. The system cuts down on the risk of hairline cracks appearing on the pieces.

A design like this one is a combination of form, function and beauty coming together to enhance the experience that you as the customer gets to live through. You can buy the chess sets knowing that they will stand the test of time.

The story behind this series evokes pride and sorrow at the same time. The series was named after Paul Morphy as a way of paying respect to the legend’s greatness and tragedy. When he was only 12, the prodigy had defeated the Hungarian chess master Johann Lowenthal several times. He took a seven year break to educate himself and came back when he was 19.

He travelled around the world as one of the first chess celebrities of the world, beating opponents the world over who were grandmasters twice his age.

When he was 22, he retired from chess because of a lack of serious competition. His aim was to become a lawyer. Sadly, the only clients he found were fans who wanted to talk about his past as a chess champion.

Out of frustration, he quit his job as a lawyer and refused all the requests made for him to return to chess until he died when he was just 47. Because of the great potential he had, and how he refused to act on it, he is known as the ‘pride and sorrow of chess.’

​3. ​​The BCC Series

In this series, we are introduced to the historically accurate reproductions of sets made by the British Chess Company originally. There are two set- the Royal and the Imperial.The BCC Royal set is reproduced from the set registered as number 177079. The pieces are hand carved and exquisite. They are made from Boxwood and Ebony.

The king piece is 4.5 inches tall and they have two finial styles. One is the Maltese cross and the other is the Eastern Teardrop as designed by The Maestro. They include an extra pair of Queens for better Pawn promotion. The pieces are stored in a Red Mahogany veneered chess box.

As for the Imperial Chess set, it is an exact replica the BCC introduced in 1891. The design had pieces that were larger depending on how much power they have on the board. When Frank redesigned it, he weighted them according to how much power they have on the board.

Not only did he re-weight them, he also arranged them using height in relation to power. Instead of having the green baize base, each of the Kings has a gold-embossedBlack English leather base pad. Now that is what we call luxury.

The Collections

The Camaratta Collection

Of the collections, this one is a unique product that included The Maestro’s favorite sets. It also has some reproductions of historical sets from his own personal collection. It is quite a sight. You will see old Staunton sets, Northern Upright style sets that came before the Staunton design and the Avant Garde, modern sets.

The Timeless Collection

In this collection, the featured chess pieces and sets are the ones that will never be out of vogue. Some of them are reproductions of products throughout history and others are new designs that retain a look from the last century. A nostalgic collectionlike this one really elevates the game to new heights.

The Exotique Collection

It is not hard to guess from the name of this collection that the sets featured here are not the usual kind we are all used to. The uniqueness comes from one of the features that they come with. They might be made from exotic wood or something equally amazing. There is always something strange and titillating to bring to the table.

Additional Brands

The house brand is the pride of The House of Staunton. However the website shows that they have much more to offer in terms of additional brands. They include chess clocks made by companies like:

  • Chronos
  • DGT
  • Zmart
  • BHB

These are just some of them. They have more.

Their chess software comes from companies like:

  • ChessBase
  • Convetka
  • Chess King

Their chess DVDs come from companies like:

  • ChessDVDs
  • Killer Chess
  • Chessmates
  • Chess King
  • Kopek Chess
  • Disney
  • ChessBase
  • Broadgreen

​These companies mentioned are just a few of the many that The House of Staunton works with. It is clear that even when they products are not in-house, The House of Staunton will find a way to provide quality.

The House of Staunton Collector’s Club and Discounts

Aside from the great products that they have, The House of Staunton provides an exclusive program that is specifically for The HOS Collector’s Club. To become a member, you will need to pay a one-time fee for a lifetime membership in the club.

The benefits of the club include getting a minimum discount of 10% on all the products from The House of Staunton brand. This discount applies to all the purchases that a member will make for the rest of their lives.

The great thing about it is that the cost of the discount will easily be exceeded when you buy one or two items. In combination with the HOS Collector’s Club, a member can get offers and sales on the website, saving even more money.

Members will also be notified first of any new sets to be introduced into the catalog. The notifications are a great way to get the low production number chess sets that are valuable among collector circles.

The House of Staunton Coupons

Occasionally, you will find a coupon code to use on purchases. They may be difficult to find and not available all the time but if you get the membership, you can get notifications when they offer coupons.

Wanna Save More Money?

For a brand that is known for producing very good chess board that go on to become heirlooms and such, you can expect the price to reflect that. However, you can do the following things to save money:

  • Keep your eye on chess sets that are being discontinued. This does not happen often but when it does, you can get it for a ridiculously low price.
  • Get the HOS Collector’s Club membership. Because they get notified of all new deals that are at an advantage when it comes to saving money.
  • Shop the sales. Every now and then, The House of Staunton has special discounts, coupon codes and sale pricing on some items. It is announced on the website. Keep your eye on it.

Does it sound like a lot of work? Well, if you know anything about HOS chess sets, you know that it is worth it to check for new discounts and such.

The House of Staunton’s Customer Service

On business days between 9am and 5pm, House of Staunton’s customer service is easily available on the phone or email. They are generally happy to help customers sort out problems, get answers to questions, execute returns and exchanges.

According to customer reviews and personal interactions, they are helpful and friendly even though they might sometimes take a bit longer to reply than other customer service departments.

Before you call them to ask a question, check the commonly asked questions sections to see if someone else has had your problem solved in the past. This will save time, as you will find the answer you are looking for without calling in first.

For exchanges and returns, you have 30 days between the time your order gets shipped and the time you make the request. For damages, you have 7 days and if a return is authorized, you have to do it within two weeks.

All the shipping costs will be your responsibility and non-refundable. The order will be subject to a 15% restocking fee, unless you are exchanging or returning a product to get store credit instead.

The House of Staunton Website Shopping Experience

With a large catalog, it is easy for one to be overwhelmed. You will find categorized and well-listed products with pictures to assist you in knowing what to go for. The features are more than enough. The listing have product descriptions to make it easy for you to get the exact thing you want.

The search feature needs some work because it might not display all the relevant results for a specific keyword when you are looking for a specific product. The problem might cause inconsistency and you might not find what you are looking for.

There is an awesome feature they have though. It is called ‘Build Your Own Chess Set.’ The tool allows you to choose the elements that go into your desired set, including pieces, the board and the box. You can choose style too and material.

You can construct a House of Staunton Chess Set that fits your specs with precision.

Shipping Options, Payment Method and Warranty

Domestic orders are shipped using FedEx and USPS. You can use two-day shipping or overnight shipping if you are in a rush. You’ll have to sign for it so, be home. Payments methods include:

  • All major credit cards
  • Gift cards from House of Staunton
  • PayPal
  • Amazon payments
  • Money order in USD
  • Personal checks
  • Money wires for purchases over $200

You will find options for everyone here.

A one-year warranty applies to every product they have to make sure there are no manufacturing defects like hairline cracks, weighting issues or loose/rattling pieces. Lost pieces, improper waxing, personal damage and other non-manufacturing errors are not covered.

The Final Verdict

We have criticized everything that we can think of. It is clear that the House of Staunton is a behemoth of a brand with impeccable quality, great prices for said quality and a reputation to boot. If you add all this, you get a company that still stands as the golden standard of chess products in the world.

They provide luxury, quality, variety and unmatched attention to detail. The customer service is great and the website easy to navigate. The House of Staunton has stayed in the game for years. We are glad to say that they are worth it and more.

The House of Staunton is truly one of the best places to buy chess equipment online.