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Antiques Considered - February 11, 2009

   This was a recent estate sale purchase.  It has many coats of paint on it, but the iron mechanism works perfectly.  The owner asks our opinion about whether to strip and refinish or not.
The answer is an emphatic yes.  This chair dates from the last quarter of the nineteenth century.  I am positive that the wood will turn out to be either oak, or more likely, chestnut.
   When first made it bore a finish highlighting the wood, but probably across the years as it aged and discolored, someone decided to slap a coat of paint on it to freshen it up.   They did it no favor.
   The chair probably originated at a factory in Ohio, Pennsylvania or New York, and is representative of the new age of industrialism which came in after the War Between the States.   The style is typical of that late Victorian era.
   Almost certainly, it always was an office piece.  Possibly somewhere in the iron parts underneath is a factory name and a manufacturing year.  It the ironwork is rusty or bears as many coats of paint as the wooden surfaces, I suggest having it stripped as well.          You either cause paint remover or can have it blasted with baking soda.  I suggest avoiding sandblasting, as the process could leave permanent damage.  Baking soda is milder, and does virtually no harm.
   Once cleaned of the paint, rust and dirt, a clear satin finish would be in keeping with the original finish.  I also recommend a clear spray on the cleaned iron to retard future rust.
   As is the chair is worth $35; properly restored, $250.  In good condition these pieces are quite popular, and carry a heavy demand, but ones in the condition of this one are slow to move.  In this case every dollar spent on proper restoration, will enhance the original investment.

   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. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.

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