Pillsbury Photographs

The wikipedia photograph of Pillsbury looks like this:



Where is it from? Wikipedia (en) references Wikipedia (nl), so who knows?

Now, chessbase has an article on Pillsbury, which contains this photograph:



Which seems to indicate that the Wikipedia photograph has been cropped from the above.

But searching further, I then discovered another Pillsbury photograph at an Italian website:



This seems to be an expanded version of the chessbase photograph, and is likely the framing used by the original photographer. We now clearly see the room it is from, which seems to be numbered 201 on the door (though it’s backwards as seen from the inside). Is that number significant? Hmmm….

[Update note- As <jnpope> pointed out on <CG>, the number on the door is 701, and not 201

See https://zanchess.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/pillsbury-photographs-slight-return/ -ed]

And does anybody recognize the opponent sitting opposite Pillsbury? It may perhaps be Taubenhaus, the Parisian expert who participated in the Impromptu Tournment, but I’m not sure.

On the other hand, here is a photograph of Lasker and Pillsbury, captioned as being from New York, 1893. This must have been from their game in the Impromptu International Chess Tournament of 1893 in New York. Or is it?!

PillsburyLasker- 1893 (NY)It’s the same room that the other series of photographs are from, no doubt about that!

Note that a portrait of Steinitz hangs on the wall, and that the address on the door is not quite readable in this photograph, though we know it’s 201 from the previous photograph. The table, set and clock are all identical.

But which room is this, and from what location?

It’s well known that Lasker-Pillsbury was in round 8 of the tournament, which was held in the Manhattan Chess Club. But Pillsbury-Taubenhaus took place in round 9, and that round was held in the Brooklyn Chess Club (as was round 10).

Of course, any of these photographs could have been staged, but at least they got the pairing-colors correct (Lasker was indeed White against Pillsbury, while Taubenhaus played Black, although I often have trouble with the contrast between the piece colors in these old photographs – could it also be the actual pieces colors had less contrast back then?). It is also interesting to note the reporters standing in the background. Apparently some reporters did get preferential treatment!

As I said, the room appears to be numbered 201. This might then be a staged photograph from the Brooklyn Chess Club (BCC), where two rounds of the 1893 tournament were held (the BCC’s address was 201 Montague St., Brooklyn, NY as given in BSDU-13 (see future post for ref)).  That might account for the players nonchalance and unconcerned faces, despite the close proximity of the reporters – ha!

Oh, and by the way, Pillsbury did play Taubenhaus at the BCC on Friday, Oct. 13, 1893, winning with the White pieces. (Taubenhaus shares with Pillsbury a resume entry as automaton operator – in the Parisien’s case as the operator of Mephisto during the Paris 1889 exhibition.)

1893-10-01-NYS-Taubenhaus(Taubenhaus bio sketch from New York Sun, Sunday Oct 1, 1893)

You can find the above photograph at the Italian site here: http://soloscacchi.altervista.org/?p=36166, where it is mislabeled as being between Pillsbury and Taubenhaus. It can also be found at http://www.chess.com/forum/view/general/greatest-chess-photos?page=2 where it is correctly labeled.

From the immediately preceding Italian site, is also a photograph of Pillsbury from the quartet St. Petersburg tournament:


Lasker, Chigorin, Steinitz and Pillsbury in St. Petersburg, 1895/6. Here I believe the hanging portrait is of Chigorin himself, but I’m not entirely sure. The photograph (well, a similar one with Pillsbury and Lasker on opposite side of the table) was also turned into an illustration, probably for purposes of publication in newspaper print:

cn6434_laskerpillsbury2(I got this from Edward Winter’s wonderfully information Chess Notes site:


And from the first Italian site, here is an advert for the automaton that Pillsbury operated for a time in New York, Ajeeb:


(Of course this image is also available from Wikipedia too)

Pillsbury operated Ajeeb when it was located in the Eden Musee, seen here:

eden musee 1899

As usual, I’m following in the trail of batgirl:



but also see this:




Again Sarah has a nice writeup on the Manhattan Chess Club, with pictures from the EDOchess site: http://www.edochess.ca/batgirl/MCC.html

Also, if you’re willing to suspend belief, and enjoy a read without references, you can find more on Ajeeb here:






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