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Antiques Considered - June 10, 2009

A lady from Northumberland County bought this platform rocking chair a number of years ago.  The wood is walnut and the upholstery, which is not original, is in excellent condition, although it is bright red.
This piece dates from the 1870s.  Fortunately, the previous owner kept the original lines when the chair was re-upholstered: The tufting on the back was repeated. Often, to save money, people have Victorian pieces re-covered without having the tufting repeated. Despite the money spent with the upholsterer, this practice lessens the overall value.  Here that did not happen.
The carving on the crest is exceptionally well done, and the overall lines are excellent.  The chair shows the profound influence of Charles Eastlake, the Victorian designer who popularized the intaglio cut motif, which has been applied to the side carvings, apron and back.  I suspect it came from a cabinet shop in the mid-Atlantic region, probably New York or Pennsylvania.


Almost certainly, this platform rocker was part of a larger parlor suite, consisting of a settee, gentleman's and lady's chairs, and side chairs.  Of all of those pieces, this one, in today's market, would be the most desirable. The bright red fabric might lessen the appeal to some folks. Re-covering in a neutral fabric would not be as expensive, inasmuch as all of the structural work in such a job already has been done.  I am thinking here of the re-tieing of the springs and the new webbing underneath.
This platform rocking chair is worth $200, and possibly more to a Victorian purist looking for an untouched example of fine craftsmanship.  Victorian is not for everyone. Its popularity today is less than it was a generation ago, but it will return, and when it does, the values will only go up.
Happy Antiquing …

• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there, or by e-mail at comantqu@ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in “Antiques Considered.” Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

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