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Antiques Considered - April 7, 2010

An e-mail writer has sent this picture of a Jacobean-style chair she recently acquired. The upholstery is new, and the condition is good. The writer does not mention the type of wood, but I assume it is walnut. She was told that it is Jacobean, but asks if it could be Jacobean Revival from the 19th century.
Indeed, this piece is the latter, a 19th-century version of a style that was popular in the Tudor and Stuart reigns in England. It dates from the 1840s, and exhibits Jacobean arms and legs, with the back panel being a fine example of the folded linen style popular in Tudor times, particularly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

“Jacobean” is the adjective for the name James, thus a piece that is of the Jacobean period dates from his reign of 1603 to 1625. He was the most learned of all English kings, being fluent in Latin and Greek, but he lacked common sense. He ordered the translation of the Bible, which still bears his name, the King James Version, used by most Protestant churches. Sully, the minister of King Louis XIII of France called him the “wisest fool in Christendom.”
Three-hundred years after his death, the style of his period came into vogue again during the reign of Queen Victoria. During that era a great wave of Gothic, Tudor and Jacobean items flooded the British and American markets. This chair fits into that scenario. Architecture also imitated the earlier styles, for instance this time building railway stations in the motif of gothic cathedrals.
The chair is worth $350. Were it original, the price would be three times that amount. I suggest re-upholstering it in a more appropriate fabric, as the bright pink clashes with the wood, and more importantly, with the style of the period.
As a representative of the Victorian return to earlier genres for inspiration and replication, this chair is a splendid example.
Happy antiquing!
Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. 22570. (P. O. 35). Wicomico Church, VA 22570. Write to them there or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with pictures and descriptions of items.

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