On the book “Master Pieces”, by Gareth Williams (2000 Quintet Publishing Limited, Hardcover, 160 pp.) we learn that in 1933, a plan to rescue Napoleon Bonaparte from St. Helena was discovered within a chess set especially designed by his supporters, made from ivory and mother-of-pearl. However, Napoleon never found out that the chessmen had held inside any secret messages, since “the officer bringing the set to Napoleon died while at sea and was thus unable to explain the hidden significance.”
Could this be the same chess set that the Vanderbilt family acquired for the Biltmore Estate? You may see some pictures in this article by Mike McLeod on the antiques of Biltmore Estate.