Early Couroc "Chess" Tray - Excellent condition 15

  • Sold for: Start Free Trial or Sign In to see what it's worth.
  • Item Category: Furniture & Furnishings
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Nov 20, 2007
  • Channel: Auction House

Couroc Chess Tray - Excellent Condition

15" x 10.75"

Neat Tray, an old type Couroc tray in beautiful shape. The design has a lot of work in it and is pretty darn rare. This tray is so nice that it will make a very nice gift for some chess lover.

I would give this tray a 96%. It looks unused. T is a very old type white paper label and little stubby feet - an earlier form than the concave feet. The label has a #20 written in pencil on the lower left corner. I have no way of proving it but I believe it to be a factory marking. Perhaps somebody else has one with a similar marking. Please let me know if you do.

Like all Couroc trays, this is a great tray for working on your lap with a laptop or whenever you are working with small pieces. The substantial, raised lip helps keep everything on the tray. Made of a bakelite-like resin, Couroc trays are very sturdy and durable. They are great to serve drinks or food or just for display. Couroc has remained a hot collectable for many years due to the high quality of design and materials.

I have written three "guides" to help Couroc collectors and sellers too. You can see them when you search for Couroc on the left side of the page. One is a guide to trays, another a guide to Couroc boxes and the last a guide on how to ship Couroc safely. Please take a second to click the "was this guide helpful to you" box at the bottom. Thanks to those of you who have done so. You can also find these guides through my 'Me' page which I will also be using to show off occasional unusual or unique Couroc pieces that I am not selling.

And now, is some general information on Couroc and Couroc products:

Started in 1948 by Guthrie Courvoisier, the Couroc company produced many different types and shapes of trays, boxes, ashtrays and glassware but their stylistic high-point was in the earlier years (with some notable exceptions). He, like most everybody else helped in the war effort and he gained valuable experience with plastics. After much experimentation, he created a proprietary formula of phenolic resin that served as the basis for several decades work.

Couroc's founder was involved with the arts until his death in the 1970's. He was one of the first to market Walt Disney animation cels before founding Couroc. For the first ten years or so, Courvoisier ran Couroc a little like an art-commune, employing many skilled artisans. During these early years, the artists carefully arranged bits and pieces of common metal items one might find at a hardware store into elements of the design. Items like springs, screws, glitter, safety pins and paper clips were commonly part of Couroc's best designs. The artisans also used pieces of brass and other metals and carefully bent them into shape.

The process seems to have been that an artisan would lay out the design of the inlays. Crushed coral seems to have been stenciled into place and then pieces of wood and metal were added. T seems to have been a large machine involved to mold the tray under great heat and pressure. You can pick up subtle variations in the molds that they used.

For example, the large Couroc tray is 18" x 12" but t are actually two distinct sizes of large tray. When you have an example of each next to each other you can see the difference. That are just a little bit off and don't nest correctly - one is larger than the other by about 1/8th of an inch. It is one of the interesting little things that makes Couroc fascinating. The "large" large tray is far less common but I am certainly not calling it rare.

The foot that Couroc used on their trays changed over the years. It evolved from a little stump to a stump with a point and then moved closer to the final, concave foot profile. The labels changed from a white paper label with green printing to a gold label with black. T are many variations of labels and many special labels for certain trays.

The phenolic resin that Couroc used changed o...