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Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Posted by avaeia (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 8, 12 at 13:43

Hi friends,
I just bought a lovely antique dining table and chairs. When I went to re-upholster the chairs I saw the cushions were stuffed -- well stuffed is the wrong word--the cushions had a straw layer under cotton batting. Does this indicate a date range of when the chairs were made?
Thanks for any help.
I can post a picture if that helps. :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I am sure someone must know the end of the time when straw ( or was it wood shavings?) was used for stuffing....but I don't.
I could better tell the approximate date by the style and the way it's made.
Linda C


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Linda is probably right, in that it's not straw, but excelsior (wood shavings). I have seen that in fairly recent furniture, and by fairly recent, I mean as late as fifties/sixties. From what I can find on the inet, its use was as early as 1870s, when machines to shred it were patented. So that is too broad a range to come to any idea of production date. Of course a picture would help.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

To me it looks like straw-- here's a picture...Do you think it's long wood shavings?
Thanks!


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I think you 2 are right! It must be excelsior! Thank you. I learned something new! I really appreciate your help. I am a newbie.
Best wishes...


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Sorry....looks like straw to me!...Excelsior is finer and gets powdery....It was also used, but I have never come across it.
Let's see the rest of the chair.

Here is a link that might be useful: excelsior


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I have seen lots and lots of excelsior used as stuffing in old furniture, it was quite common. No, it does not get 'powdery' and ages quite well. It also isn't necessarily 'fine' either and can be quite coarse. You know how pictures are on monitors, I can't really tell. However, straw is hollow inside, since it's just the shaft of a grass and wood shavings aren't, of course.

You would be astounded in what all was used as stuffing or padding in furniture and mattresses, including moss, seaweed, fur, feathers, straw, animal hair, excelsior, cotton batting, and kapok. Moss was very common at one time in mattresses. Please take a picture of your set, it's really necessary to even have a clue at its age.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Horsehair(also used in pads under carpet until probably late 1960's(we had it put in new in 1967- later found very allergic to it) but got a 1940's desk chair stuffed with it. Also got a chair with ladder back with cane seat & when went to take seat apart found 1940's newspapers used as stuffing! Sure looks like straw so try opening piece of it. I've had excelsior that was very fine & curly kind- of not like that. What does chair look like?


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I have a sofa...Empire, that was stuffed with excelsior.....and the bottom was covered with black baize....and every time someone sat on it, a fine dust filtered down, through the black fabric.
No it's not powder post beetles....just 150 year old excelsior!
The sofa has been redone....no more excelsior dust on the floor.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

It looks like shredded palm fronds.
Real excelsior, due to the manuf. process, is curly, so you'd think that even in a crushed state, it would be matted together with some interlocking of the strands.
Think of the plastic easter-basket "grass" but made from wood; that's excelsior.
Casey


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Probably just plain dust, Linda. Casey very well could be. Like I said they used just about any fibre, if it could be dried. It's not a major issue anyway, we sure as hey can't identify a dining set by it if the OP doesn't provide any more information than a picture of some stuffing.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

A [picture of the chairs would be much more helpful in identifying the date than pictures of the stuffing.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I realize this is an old forum, but I have a similar issue & hope you all can help! Any ideas on the date of this chair?


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I realize this is an old forum, but I have a similar issue & hope you all can help! Any ideas on the date of this chair?


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

The chair


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

The nails in the upholstery construction


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

At a guess, 1850-1870. Is it walnut? Was the seat originally caned? I believe it might have been and the upholstery was added later when the caning wore out.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I believe it is walnut, but I'm not sure. Your thoughts about it being caned originally may be correct. I've been wondering why there are other nail holes in it under the upholstery. I don't have any history on it though because I bought it at a second hand store. Any idea on value? Thanks for your help by the way!


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

I have walnut chairs with cane seats that are very similar to yours. My great grandparents started housekeeping with them in 1865.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Rather than nails, I think those would be called tacks. or furniture tacks.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

In beginning to recover this spring type rocker I too found what looks like straw. There are joints and a lumen in some of the pieces. It's wrapped in burlap and muslin with some cotton batting and there is some orange colored clay-like material. Anyone have any thoughts about the age. The tacks look like the photo of previous post. The spring device has metal screws however.


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Here's view of the seat


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

It's an Eastlake platform rocker. They were popular in the late Victorian era, 1885 - 1905 ish. Good luck with the reupholstering.
They still use the same kind of tacks in some traditional upholstery shops, although most use staples now. I took several classes in upholstering & had to learn how to use tacks. mfrog


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RE: Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?

Thanks for the info!


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