Nathaniel Cooke

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Chess pieces of Nathaniel Cooke's 1849 "Staunton" design

Nathaniel Cooke was the designer of a set of chess figures which is now the standard set.

He registered his design at the United Kingdom Patent Office on 1 March 1849 under the Ornamental Designs Act of 1842. As he was the editor of The Illustrated London News, the newspaper where Howard Staunton wrote a regular chess column, he asked Staunton to advertise his chess set. Staunton did so in his column on 8 September 1849, and the set became famous under the name Staunton chess set.

Cooke's name was misspelled as "Cook" on the 1849 patent and the misspelling has propagated in chess literature since then. The correct spelling can be found in numerous documents, including his listings in the London Directories (see sidebar) as well as official announcements of the marriage of his daughter Harriet Ingram Cooke, to John Jaques II, son of John Jaques, owner of the company that first manufactured the Staunton pieces in 1849 (see sidebar).

Nathaniel Cooke's listings in the London Directories
Marriage announcement in The Illustrated London News, 1860-Jan-31


  • Brace, Edward R. (1977), An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess, Hamlyn Publishing Group, p. 71, ISBN 1-55521-394-4
  • Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), "Staunton chessmen", The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 392, ISBN 0-19-280049-3