This Chess Piece Is About To Sell For $1 Million

The Lewis Chessman was missing for almost 200 years, and is now expected to fetch big money at auction.

The rook piece is a warder holding a sword and was bought by an antiques dealer in 1964 for just £5 in Edinburgh.

"It was catalogued in his purchase ledger that he had bought an ‘Antique Walrus Tusk Warrior Chessman’," a family spokesperson said in a statement.

"From this description, it can be assumed that he was unaware he had purchased an important historic artefact."

The warder piece. Photo: Sotherby's

The piece, carved out of walrus ivory, was then inherited by the dealer's daughter when he died.

"For many years it resided in a drawer in her home where it had been carefully wrapped in a small bag," the family said.

"From time to time, she would remove the chess piece from the drawer in order to appreciate its uniqueness.”

The warder piece. Photo: Sotherby's

The piece will be sold by Sotheby's on July 2, and is described by the auction house as the "most famous chess pieces to have survived from the medieval world".

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It is the first time one of these chess pieces has ever come up for sale and it is expected to fetch between £600,000 and £1 million (AU$ 1 million to AU$1.8 million).

Lewis chess pieces at the National Museum of Scotland. Photo: National Museums of Scotland

The Lewis Chessmen are four sets of chess pieces which were found on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland, in 1831.

The British Museum holds 82 pieces, the National Museum of Scotland holds 11 and until now, one knight and four warders have been missing from the collection.