Sanfilippo Chess Series
The set shown is twenty sixth in the Sanfilippo Chess Series. Each set is an original work of art hand built from terra cotta clay, sculpted, carved and then glazed to a high fire for a permanent finish and durability.
Do you see the flame in this photo of #26, the "Dragon Slayers"? In total there are four candles in this set. Two of them are inside the dragon side rooks. In a low light or dark environment lighted candles add a mysterious glow.
Dave Sanfilippo has crafted chess sets for a while now. He has plans to continue until he feels inspired to make his final set - which he says, will be his biggest to date, a very prominent, strong design.
He currently shows his work in two galleries in Pennsylvania. His sets are auctioned at Material Culture, Philadelphia, PA.
The set displayed on this page was supplied to Chess House.
Some of Dave's other sets can be found at
The Trespass into Herleva’s Wolf Den - Dancing Tree Creations
Battle for Evergreen Mountain - The Wolf Sanctuary of PA
Raiders of the Aegean Sea - Langman Gallery
Into the Peaked Highlands: Land of the Dragons - Celtic Myth & Moonlight
The Quest for Melissa’s Honey - Honey Acres Museum
Dave's 21st set "Skirmish in the Bohemian Forest" is found the ShachMuseum in Strobeck, Germany.
Pawns - Warrior Dragons
Rooks - Dragon’s Nest
Knights - Dragon Horse
Bishops - Senior Dragon
Queen - Dragon Queen
King - Dragon King
Dragon Slayer Side
Pawns - Infantry with Dragon Spears
Rooks - Fire Tower
Knights - Horse
Bishops - High Priest with Magic Sphere
Queen - The Dragon Slayer with the Mighty Sword
King - Chieftain
Each piece is hand built and sculpted from terra cotta clay. When the clay becomes leathery/hardens the pieces are carved. The pieces take several weeks to dry as they are not hollow. The pieces are then low fired, with a cone rating of 4-6 for over fifteen hours. After the low fire, the pieces are under glazed, glazed, and fired high for over twelve hours with a cone rating of 5-6.
A Cone rating means that you can fire that clay at any temperature up to that cone. The closer you get to the maximum rated cone, the stronger and denser your clay will be. You cannot fire a clay higher than its maximum rated Cone, or it will melt.
Low-fire clay can only be fired up to Cone 04, or sometimes a little higher. Unlike mid and high fire, it never shrinks much or gets strong and dense even when fired to its maximum temperature. The main advantage to using a low-fire clay when low firing is that your glazes may craze less than if you used a Cone 10 or Cone 6 clay.
As always, you must fire your glaze to the Cone that is specified for that glaze, regardless what clay you use. Just make sure you use a clay rated at least as high as the glaze.
During the firings some fracturing, or cracks may develop. These cracks are filled with silver, copper or brass and each piece is unique. The pieces have a permanent lasting finish and are durable for play.
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Why Chess House?
Elliott Neff, author of a Pawn's Journey