Gentleman's Chair??

GGirl23August 15, 2012

Hello! I purchased this chair at a junk shop and I was told it was from a plantation in Clarksville, TN. It is straw filled and looks to have the original finish. The wood on the very front of the chair seems charred and the rest of the wood is in so-so condition, jointed in sections as it curves around the body.

I would just like to know what it is and the approximate age before I do any restoration. I bought it for no other reason than I liked it. I don't expect there to be any great value but would like a little history.

Thanks in advance for any info!

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Latish Victorian gentleman's chair...or ladies chair, I have no size reference. Undoubtedly part of a larger set....

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 10:41PM
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Thank you Lindac! Any idea on the age?

The measurements are:
Total height: 45"
Seat height: 16"
Seat width: 16"
Arm width: 24.5" (at widest curve)
Back width: 22" (at widest curve)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 10:56PM
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There likely was a larger chair with the set....sounds small for a man.
Age?...1890? 1880?....maybe later......that leg says later. Are there holes in the legs for casters?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:30AM
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It is small for a man. And yes, the leg says later.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 8:28AM
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Yes, I bet it should have casters! Thanks for saying that because we thought it sat a little too forward. Mystery solved!

Do you have any warnings or suggestions on restoration? Again, I'm not expecting a significant value but as little as I know don't want to overlook something and I would follow a completely different restoration path if there is value.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:07AM
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Sorry, should have added this in the last post...

I have not been able to find any kind of makers's mark. Would that be common? If there should be one, where would I look and what would I look for?

Thanks again for all the help!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:17AM
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What do you mean by "restore"?
Do not strip it....clean it with something like mineral spirits. Why do you say the front wood seems charred? because of the color ? Possibly dirt?
The fabric looks to be in amazingly good condition. If I found that I would likely vacuum the upholstery and clean it....perhaps have it professionally cleaned.....and clean the wood with mineral spirits...and wax.
How do you know it's stuffed with straw?
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:45AM
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The original photo is probably a little misleading because you can't see the detail.

I definitely won't strip it. Mineral spirits sounds like a great idea and I have a great wax for it.

The front cross piece is very very dark (black) with some crackling in the finish and the wood sounds hollow. Even the darkened, worn or soiled areas are lighter than this area.

The man I bought it from told me it had straw in the back and sure enough you can feel it and hear it.

When I bought it, it was sitting outside but in the shade. I'm not sure if he kept it indoors at night or not and I don't know how long he had it. I also think the resident cat may have enjoyed sinking his claws into it, so the fabric is pretty weak and tearing. Some of the fabric is so damaged its turning to dust, especially in the seat webbing.

As far as restoration goes, I certainly want to respect the age and historical value of the chair even if it is never worth anymore than the $40 I spent on it. I would however like for it to be a chair that could be used and there is NO WAY I would sit in it now. Between the tearing fabric and the need for new springs, the seat wouldn't hold a tea cup poodle. :D

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 11:01AM
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Nice, looks like the "ladies chair" from a parlor set. A full blown set had a sofa for important guests, two armed chairs for master and mistress, and a couple of side chairs.

For that "charred look" see the pictures in the discussion of Formby's restore-a-finish. It's probably just a century to more of polish and grime that can be cleaned off.

Clean it up and see what you have

No sanding required, usually. The link shows what a few minutes with gentle steel wool and some solvents can do.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Thanks for information! Too bad he didn't have any other pieces but its fun to know more about the grouping.

Wow! What a difference in the finish. Thanks for the pic.
I did see that post and was curious if it would work on this chair. You both may be right it may just be dirty. Maybe the hollow sound is because of some minor delamination?? It does look like the front decorative wood is separate from the structural wood of the seat..hard to tell.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:07PM
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Yeah.....guess it does need reupholstering! LOL!
I hope that it didn't sit too close to the fire at one time...but if so there would be scorching of the fabric.
As for a "makers mark...pieces of that vintage very seldom bore any mark. Even Chippendale and Hepplewhite didn't label their stuff. What you seem to think may have been a maker's mark perhapos was an owner's label.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Linda it's funny that you say that about the fire because my husband and I were originally thinking the same thing and wondering if the fabric wasn't original. If only it could talk. :)

Good to know about the owner's label. I'm guessing I won't find any identifiers.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:56PM
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When you remove the fabric....if it's been re done you will see another set of tack holes

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 2:45PM
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