Halvor Jaeger, Chess Sets

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  • Halvor Jaeger, Chess Sets

    Halvor Jaeger, Chess Sets

    July 5, 2016



    Canadian Bonanza

    On June 20th, Toronto-based auction house Waddingtons ran another batch of what seems to be the phased sell-off of Halvor Jaeger's extensive and sparkling collection of chess sets. German born Jaeger moved to Canada from Germany in the 90-ies, with some 4.500 chosen chess sets in the luggage, and now is slowly but surely divesting himself of what formerly was - and still is - one of the best collections of chess sets in the world.

    In comparison to the December 2015 sales - where 100 sets and objects where presented and fetched throughout results under the auctioneers prognostics, this time around Jaeger only offered 20 superb sets to the punters - and the excellent results proved the correctness of a limited offer - the market for this kind of exuberance worldwide, after all, is not that large, especially in times of ivory proscription!

    The absolute highlight proved to be Lot 117 - a beautifully carved ivory set representing horse-mounted orientals against also equestrian Europeans, either Erbach or Paris origins - from the 19th century or later, in a historicizing context. This set was estimated at between 20.000. - and 30.000. - CAD, and was sold for a fairly low CAD 40.800. - - approximately USD 31.360. - or Euro 28.277. - or GBP 23.421.

    The other lots were also of superb quality - we noted a polychromed figural Paris set carved in ivory, two makruk sets in ivory, a unique Indian set with very unusual figure composition (Lot 103) and a medieval chess bishop (Lot 101). A moot question is debating whether these sets would have sold for more on the London market - the sets are physically in Canada, and what with the present ivory craze it would be difficult to transport them legally to London for auctioning. Buyers will most likely face a daunting task in retrieving these sets as well - European buyers will have to smuggle them around the customs controls, and US - buyers will have to see how to get the across the Canadian border without running afoul of customs or police controls.

    Lot 117 can be seen at the Waddingtons site:


    There is a book showing the collection as it was:

    Schachspiele : Wandel im Laufe der Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte : Privatsammlung Jaeger

    by Ursula Siebert and published by the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, München in 1988. 128 pp

    And where did the money come from to build a million dollar collection of chess sets?

    In 2004, the Globe and Mail had an article on Dr. Jaeger. An excerpt:

    Halvor Jaeger practises what he preaches about corporate governance. And then some. ”As a matter of principle,” the founder, controlling shareholder and chief executive officer of LAB International Inc., who is also a physician, won't let managers of his contract research and drug development company sit on the board of directors. And that includes him.

    "The board is supposed to control management and you can't control yourself," he said.

    Dr. Jaeger, who emigrated to Canada from Germany in 1995, figures he'll take a seat on the board when he no longer has an active role in management.

    In 1979, three years after graduating from medical school at the University of Ulm in Germany, he founded a company similar to LAB. He sold that company in 1996.

    "We were doing some early drug development work back then, but there was never enough investment money in Germany for drug developers," he said.

    After arriving in Canada, Dr. Jaeger formed another contract research firm that he sold in 1999 to MDS Inc. of Toronto for $12-million and Ethypharm SA of France for $6-million in a deal that allowed him to retain LAB's current preclinical or animal-testing base, which went public two years ago.


  • #2
    Re: Halvor Jaeger, Chess Sets

    Halvor Jaeger, Chess Sets

    July 6, 2016

    My mention of the Waddington’s chess set auction in the previous post stirred up a memory in me.

    In 1975, two years back from studying in England I noticed an ad in The Globe and Mail for a coming auction from the estate of Pearl Buck.

    It was to be held June 10 – 12, 1975 at the Robert Deveau Galleries on Queen Street E. in Toronto.

    Miss Buck, the daughter of missionaries, spent the first thirty years of her life in China. She had died in March of 1973. I had recently read The Good Earth and thought how wonderful it would be to own something that had belonged to her.

    It was my first auction. The two sets of items that I remembered that she had owned were crystal eggs and cricket cages.

    Crystal eggs are polished egg-shaped semi-precious stones like agate, jasper and quartz. Usually they stand 1” to 3” and resemble goose eggs.

    Cricket cages were wooden cages, meant to hold crickets as pets for good luck. Singing and fighting crickets were the favorite pets of the Emperors of China.

    If I recall correctly, the items brought in $30 to $40 each, much too high a price for a poor graduate student.

    Not being able to afford chess sets or crystal eggs, I continued collecting chess books – but I do have some regrets!


    • #3
      Re: Halvor Jaeger, Chess Sets

      This U.K. auction involving a very expensive medieval chess piece certainly makes the news. (: