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Antiques Considered - September 21, 2011

This Sheraton armchair comes from an Ohio family who settled in Washington before moving to the Northern Neck. It is mahogany, and has a slip seat, that is the seat can be “slipped” from the chair. In other words, the seat is not upholstered to the frame. It bears an old label from a Dublin moving company, but has been in this country for more than a

century. The finish is worn, but original, as is the frame of the slip seat. The family uses it as a desk chair.

Upon first looking at the picture I thought the chair might be Irish. The dark tone of the wood and the ornately carved splat in the back are telltale signs. Although the label is further evidence that the chair once was in Ireland, it unfortunately does not tell us who made it. The shape is quite elegant, and the design is typical of the Sheraton period, that is, the first third of the 19th century.

Irish Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton pieces are extraordinarily popular in today’s market, and this piece is a superlative example of the latter style. The flair of the legs is excellent; the curve of the crest is well shaped; the slope of the arms is dramatic. Of its period, this chair is as nice a specimen as one is likely to find.

At a good auction, the chair should bring $1,000. Clearly, originally it was part of a dining set, and I venture to say that the set truly was one of a kind. The cabinetmakers of such pieces varied their designs from set to set.

I suggest keeping the chair well waxed to preserve the fine wood tone. If the time arrives when the chair is to be re-upholstered, to be in keeping with the period, I recommend using a striped silk or damask. The present velvet cover appears to be clean, but is not what originally would have been on such a piece.

Happy antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va. 22570. Write to them or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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