We’ve teamed up with the National Justice Museum to put objects from the past into the hands of people of the present. This month, we took a chess set made by an unknown prisoner incarcerated at Wormwood Scrubs in 1978 to Dee Miller of the MinorOak Coworking.
The first thing I notice is the smell – it’s like peat. How old are these? They don’t seem very old. Ah, they’re chess pieces! They look like they’ve been made with paint and a Sharpie.
The little holes at the top make me think that they might have been used as a game of chess on a wall or something like that. That’s my guess. They’re so nicely crafted.
Whoever made them used a straight edge knife or razor. I’m guessing they’re from the fifties or sixties? Oh it was 1978? I would have been nine years old when these were being used.
I can’t imagine that a prisoner would have had access to the tools to make these so accurately. I wonder if they had a supply of slates to use? Or did they have a workshop?