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Antiques Considered - July 11, 2012

 

This captain’s chair comes from an early Northern Neck home where it is one of a set of six.   Unfortunately, three are in very bad condition, with spindles and rungs broken and unglued, and separation of the seat planks.  The wood appears to be oak, and none of the chairs has a label or identifying mark.  The owner is concerned whether the cost of restoration is worth the effort. 

Captain’s chairs continue to be in demand, and these obviously constitute a good set.  They date from the last half of the nineteenth century, and probably originated in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Having a set of six is unusual, as many such suites have been separated as families have divided estates over the generations. 

As to restoration, from the pictures of the damaged chairs, some with missing pieces, the cost would be quite high.  Two of the chairs are no more than fragments, thereby requiring considerable skill in making the missing pieces, with turning the spindles on a lathe and tapering the rungs to fit the legs.  The cost involved most likely would exceed the worth of the finished products. 

Perhaps the three severely damaged chairs could be taken apart to get sufficient pieces to make one complete chair, but that too would be expensive.  If undertaken, there would be a set of four good chairs, and chairs sell best in sets of even numbers.

As is, the three good chairs are worth $125 each, with a slightly higher premium for having three alike.  Rather than engaging in a costly repair effort, I suggest looking for similar chairs to fill out the set with the number of chairs desired.  Exact duplicates will be almost impossible to find, but compatible similiars should not As to the three good ones, I recommend not having them refinished, as the worn original finish adds to their patina, and blends with the imperfections.  Refinished, the flaws will be much more obvious.

Happy Antiquing!

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