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Antiques Considered - April 29, 2009

   A couple in the Northern Neck inherited a set of four oak dining chairs from his parents, one of which we have pictured here. Family tradition holds that they came here on a steamboat. They have hand-caned seats, which were re-caned when they were refinished about 35 years ago.  One was badly damaged in a move and they are questioning whether to restore it or not.
These chairs date from the 1890s, which makes the possibility of their having arrived here by steamboat quite plausible.  The rope turning on the side pieces is quite good, as is the "printed" swag on the crest.  The term "printed" comes from the technique of pressing into the fresh-cut oak the printed of the design, thus the work is not carving, but printing.
The chairs are typical of that period, but I have not seen ones with this exact design previously.  As a set of four, in perfect condition, they would be worth $500., given their elaborate ornamentation. Depending on the extent of the damage, and the cost of correcting it, restoration of the broken chair is probably a good idea.  If the set of four is complete once again, although I suspect originally it consisted of more than four chairs, the value would be greater than if it consists of three chairs.
Chairs of this nature are not unusual here in the Northern Neck where all of the old hotels at Colonial Beach offered meals as part of the fare, thus dining chairs abounded.  After the Second World War when modern safety standards and the changed economy ended the glory days of the venerable frame hotels were finished.  Many went the auction route, thereby providing furniture for many homes across the area.
This set is good quality, possibly made in Baltimore, and with its Northern Neck background, it provides a vignette of life here in bygone days.

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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