$1.65 Million Chess Set Recreates Battle of Issus

Whether you’re into fantasy books or videogames, there’s a novelty chess set out there for every type of nerd. This set, currently for sale from M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans, is perfect for history geeks. The price tag? A whopping $1.65 million, Forbes reports.

The item, titled "Battle of Issus" after Alexander the Great’s second battle with the Persian army in 333 BCE, is a board game that doubles as a precious piece of art. Crafted in the late 20th century, each 14-karat gold piece stands in for a character or structure from the battle.

A jewel-encrusted King Darius III and Alexander the Great represent the kings on opposite sides of the board, while the Persian god of war and the Greek goddess of war and wisdom (Athena) assume the roles of their respective queens. When the base of each piece is twisted, a special mechanism is triggered, like the swinging of a sword or the rowing of a ship’s oars.

The board itself is also an example of master craftsmanship. The surface is checkered with pink rhodonite and green malachite, and the base’s perimeter depicts action scenes from the battle. It took a jeweler over 14,000 hours over the course of a decade to craft each detail by hand.

The final product contains nearly 9 pounds of 14-karat gold, 5 pounds of 24-karat gold, 11 pounds of silver, 320 grams of garnets, and accents of pearls, rose quartz, and turquoise. If you don’t have a space in your home worthy of such a game, M.S. Rau Antiques has got you covered: The purchase includes a mahogany table and two 19th-century leather upholstered chairs.

[h/t Forbes]

All images: M.S. Rau Antiques

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Dan Bell
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.


All images by Dan Bell

The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]


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