Pillsbury Photographs (slight return)

<jnpope> is a very knowledgeable fellow, and he was kind enough to bring the following photograph to my attention:



Which, is a higher resolution version of the photograph I grabbed from the Italian site. Here, if you click on the photograph to display with full resolution, it’s quite clear that the number on the door is 701 and not 201. I suppose it was too much to hope that an interior door number match an exterior street address! I.e. the 201 being the street address of the Brooklyn Chess Club (BCC).

Now, <jnpope> has made several astute observations which strongly suggest the room above is from the Manhattan Chess Club (MCC). For example, the following group photograph, taken at the start of the tournament, is definitely of the inside of one of the rooms of the MCC:


Where the portraits on the wall match the wall of the following photograph of Lasker — Ryan. The following photograph is detailed enough that one can actually observe the craftsmanship of the wood working of both the molding on the walls, and of the legs of the table:



Now, go back and compare the baseboard molding and table legs in the Pillsbury — Taubenhaus photo to the above. OK, the chess clocks don’t match, but that’s not uncommon in a tournament. And then, consider this item, from batgirl’s writeup on the MCC:

On May 1, [1893] the club made its final move to its present location, No. 105 East 22d Street, occupying five rooms on the seventh floor of the United Charities Building, and the club was then for the first time domiciled in quarters at once convenient, accessible and well adapted for their purposes. This move was an epoch in the history of the club, and marks a distinct advance from the  cramped, unwholesome and distasteful surroundings of the former life, into large, well-lighted rooms, decorated and arranged  with taste and skill, and made still more attractive by the generous gilts of a beautiful Japanese vase and decorated pedestal from the vice-president, Mr. Wesley Bigelow. At this time a restaurant and caterer were installed, offering ample means for satisfying the cravings of the inner man. The effect of this change was immediate; the membership increased rapidly, and the whole tone and atmosphere of the club rapidly changed for the better. The dues were at this time again raised to keep pace with the increased expenses.


(She gives the reference as


Col. W. F. Morse.

but the article was written in two sections, the first part in February’s issue, the second in March’s.

See http://books.google.com/books?id=53QCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA499&lpg=PA499&dq=VOL.+I.+FEBRUARY,+1898.+The+Manhattan+Chess+Club.+Col.+W.+F.+Morse.&source=bl   )

So, the club was situated on the seventh floor during the 1893 Impromptu Tournament, contemporaneous with the photographs. So, seeing a 701 on the door isn’t so surprising. Of course, part of the tournament was held in Brooklyn, at the BCC. But I’ve been unable to find any photographs of that club from the turn of the century, and it probably didn’t have the clout to merit a full fledged session during the course of the tournament. Alas.

For completeness, I’ll include <jnpope>’s comments:

Premium Chessgames Member
jnpope: Well, it looks like the number on the door is 701:
Premium Chessgames Member
zanzibar: Putting aside the topic of whisky for the moment…
<offramp> (& others) – I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.<jnpope> thanks for digging out that improved photo, definitely the best resolution I’ve seen yet.Yes, I was having a bit of fun with the door number. It was too much to hope a street address matches the number on a door. (I’ll have to post a correction – but I think I’ll leave the original largely intact.)

It was a “historical experiment” to have a bit of fun, after all.

Still, the cropping and staging aspects were worth discussing. And it was indeed Taubenaus!

And I still think the room is in the Brooklyn Club. Batgirl has a brunch of interior shots of Manhattan CC, and it looks quite different:


A few questions:

1) Are your photographs from the <Harper’s Weekly> Oct. 23(?), 1893 issue mentioned in the <New York Report> article of 1893-10-28.

2) Which club is the one in the Lasker-Pillsbury photo?

3) Who’s in the smaller framed portrait to the left of Steinitz?

4) Did the pieces of that era really have so little contrast in color?

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1) To be honest, they all came to me by different sources. I haven’t been able to identify the original source.

2) Lasker-Pillsbury was played at the Manhattan CC according to <New York Sun, 1893.10.11, p4>, however, as you pointed out, Pillsbury-Taubenhaus was played at the Brooklyn CC <New York Sun, 1893.10.14, p8>. I suspect these photographs were staged to show players engaged over the board.It appears to me that all four pictures are at the same location. From the first picture to the second picture you can tell this is the center table beneath the Morphy photograph. From the second to the third it appears to me that the table and chairs are the same, and the lower molding along the wall seems to be identical. And clearly the third and fourth images are at the same location.

So to me the key item here is the first photograph which shows Bigelow, Higgins and Frankel, all of whom were officers of the Manhattan Chess Club.

3) That should be George H. Mackenzie.

4) I don’t know if all sets were of the same make, but if those pictured were ebony (for black) and walnut (for white) then the contrast might be too subtle for a black and white photograph.

Premium Chessgames Member
jnpope: <zanzibar: <Batgirl has a brunch of interior shots of Manhattan CC, and it looks quite different>>From her online version of the article:<On May 1, the club made its final move to its present location, No. 105 East 22d Street, occupying five rooms on the seventh floor of the United Charities Building…>Which would tie-in with room 701 (seventh floor). Also, the there are only four room photographs shown in the article, the Directors Room, the West Room, the East Room and the Library. I wonder if there is a “hall” that might reflect the other set of photographs.

For the record, I concede that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of all the photographs being from the MCC. And I’d like to again thank <jnpope> for both the answers and photographs.


One thought on “Pillsbury Photographs (slight return)

  1. Pingback: Pillsbury Photographs | Zan Chess

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