Chess piece missing for almost 200 years discovered in family's drawer

By Vanna Quiroz

/ CBS News

This image made available by Sotheby's on Monday, June 3, 2019, shows a newly discovered Lewis Chessman on display at Sotheby's in London. Tristan Fewings

A 900-year-old chess piece was identified after missing for almost 200 years. A family in Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh kept the chessman in a drawer since 1964 with no details about the piece.

It was purchased for a few pounds by the family's grandfather, an antique dealer, without knowing its value at the time, according to the BBC. The artifact was carved from walrus ivory during the 12th century and comes from the Viking era.

A total of 93 pieces were originally discovered in 1831 on Scotland's Isle of Lewis. The incomplete set is held at the British Museum in London and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh where five pieces still remain missing, according to The Associated Press.

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A family spokesman said in a statement, "My grandfather was an antiques dealer based in Edinburgh, and in 1964 he purchased an ivory chessman from another Edinburgh dealer," according to the BBC. "It was cataloged in his purchase ledger that he had bought an 'Antique Walrus Tusk Warrior Chessman.'"

The piece was kept in a drawer until the grandfather died and it was passed on to a family members mother, the Edinburgh family told BBC. The family in Edingburgh took the piece to Sotheby's European sculpture to be valued after more than 55 years of having it in their possession.

Alexander Kader, an expert at Sotheby's said the find is "one of the most exciting and personal rediscoveries to have been made during my career," AP reports.

The Sotheby's auction house said Monday that it's expected to bring in between 600,000 ($670,000) to 1 million pounds ($1.26 million dollars), according to AP.

First published on June 3, 2019 / 11:41 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sotheby's - The Lewis Chessman

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