The narrator of WT Dufrane’s Adventure Thriller SevenX is London’s very own lovable Yorksire Mr. Alan Dewey

Mr. Dewey is a master chess restorer and has built or repaired high end chess sets for some very exclusive clientele from all over the world.


Click on pawn to visit CHESSSPY

Click on book to listen to Alan Dewy's narration of the first two chapters of SevenX!

Click on book to listen to Alan Dewy’s narration of the first two chapters of SevenX!


I have spent a great deal of time lately on the important restoration of a set in my private collection, a 4.4″ Jaques of London set made during the fabled 1849 production year…1849 being, of course, the annus mirabilis of the chess world, when Jaques introduced the Staunton design to the world. Milissa, Jon Crumiller and I discussed the chess set world of the 1800s in New Jersey last month, and driving home we decided that now is good time to introduce & discuss this restoration of one of only five known sets of this type in the world. Meanwhile we are slowly swinging back into research and restoration, now that Milissa has somewhat recovered from the serious and distracting obligations of her new executive position in the medical world. For myself, I have quite a bit of work in the workshop and also am turning to the substantial woodwind collection as a focus of research for the year. Milissa and I will take this FLOOTSIE business on together, just as we also are working now on our first book about chess, which we hope to publish at the end of 2013.

So a lot is going on here! However, that all must be set aside for now, for it is Milissa’s birthday today and mine next Saturday and we are in a solid week of libation-driven celebration. 🙂


A note from Alan Dewey…

Goodlad-1The trade of turning is an interesting and varied  one, and ranges from the creation of marvels of one-off waney-edged hollowform objects to tedious production runs of lowly but essential drawer pulls, each just like all the others. The pieces I study, restore, and sometimes make are most similar to the latter! This is because the skills I use when working with chess sets are rooted in the workshop skills of the Victorian turners.

Alan Dewey

If you do not remember the “Finnegan’s Wake” debacle of mid-2012, I drank a wee drap too much of the Old Liffey Water to calm me nerves before picking up the accordion and launching into what turned out to be a disastrous video. Moreover, as I was told somewhat acerbically by a London friend, my accent wavered “Somewhere between Dublin and Hull.” Thank goodness WT kept me away from the Guinness for SevenX!

There were a lot of turners in the 1800s and early 1900s. In the heyday of the trade, when so many household items were made by the turners, thousands of workshops in England alone competed for business. Those old boys produced an incredible array of everyday household products: shaving brush handles, drawer pulls, instruments, spindles of various sorts, and treen innumerable. They stood at their lathes and produced wonders of function.

Similarly, I do not produce objects that primarily are made to be viewed. I do not make art! I am all for art, but these things I work with are meant to be handled, used, pulled, moved, rolled, scooped, etc. They live in our houses with us. The two links above take you to my attempt to document the fundamental processes of this sort of work. The project ties very closely to my interest in the skill sets of the Victorian turners: their skills are the ones I study … try to copy … hope to figure out. chevy                          

Look for "CHESSSPY" in the next WT Novel!Good guy or evildoer?

Look for “CHESSSPY” in the next WT Novel!
Good guy or evildoer?


This is a diary of sorts, and I share it because it is my hope that somehow these skills can be passed along, that there is still interest in doing it. Because some people need to learn it. If they don’t, when we old turners turn our lathes off that one last time, this ancient trade itself will die.

Alan Dewey (In memoriam: Bill Jones, a 5th generation English turner, 1920-2011)


2 thoughts on ““CHESSSPY””

  1. Pingback: WT Dufrane

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