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Antiques Considered - August 19, 2009

 altThese two chairs come from a home in New England, and have been in the same family, that of a lady from Virginia, since the nineteenth century.  They retain the original green paint, as well as the original stenciling, which fortunately has not been retouched. Each still is sturdy, and is in daily use.
The chairs date from the period from 1820 to 1840, and most likely are of new Hampshire origin.  Painted furniture flourished in the Granite State, to such an extent that it was a worthy rival of Baltimore, the Queen of American Painted Furniture.
Painting furniture was a way of overcoming the appearance of having used mixed woods in construction.  I suspect that these chairs are composed of pine, maple and hickory.   By painting them, they achieved a uniformity of design.  Also, people could order the painted furniture in the colors they wanted to meet the needs of their décor.
Clearly, these were part of a larger suite of six or eight chairs intended for use in the dining room.  The group also might have included a table, server and sideboard.  Possibly such pieces could have parted company in estate divisions over the years.  The scoring on the legs, and rails, the stenciling on the crests, vase-splat back and front of the seat is excellent, and the green tone is typical of the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
The chairs are worth $450 for the pair, partly because they are in such good condition, but also because they are from a genre, which is particularly high in demand at present.  I suggest keeping them in as close to original condition as possible.  I offer this advice inasmuch as I have seen hundreds of similar pieces which have been stripped by folks who thought they were increasing their value.  These are wonderful pieces of Americana.
Happy Antiquing...

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