- Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 August 2010 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 04 August 2010 05:00
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A gentleman in King George has inquired about his platform rocking chair, which has been in his family for several generations. He writes that he thinks the back is original, but that his father installed a plywood seat many years ago. He notes that the finish appears to be original. This chair dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Almost certainly, the wood is maple, and from the photographs the finish does seem to be original. I am doubtful that the back is original. A chair of this type should have a back and seat either of a form of hand-worked rattan or splits. Indeed, it cries out for their restoration.
The platform rocking chair was quite popular in those days before the introduction of the modern recliner. This one has good lines, and, given the excellent condition of the wood frame, is well worth the cost of proper restoration.
The art of hand-working rattan, caning and splits, the latter being split laths of red or white oak, has resurfaced with the renewed appreciation of the traditional crafts that now exists in the marketplace. I know a retired couple, who took the courses to learn how to do the work, and have mastered the art so well that their craftsmanship is much in demand. Such work is not inexpensive, but for a chair of this age and quality I deem it well worth the effort and expense.
As is, the chair is worth $75. Its current greatest element of value is the condition of the frame. As I have written many times in the space, original finish on wood is a major aspect of an antique’s value. Often it comprises half of the overall amount. In part this situation is the result of changing tastes. Fifty years ago refinishing was the vogue; consequently many fine pieces lost what today would be a significant aspect of their worth.
I hope this piece receives a back and seat commensurate with the quality of its wood frame.