Federal Mahogany Wing Armchair
Appraised Value: $20,000 (1999)
$15,000 - $20,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:12)
Senior Vice President & Director, American Furniture and Decorative Arts
GUEST: We inherited it in 1976.
APPRAISER: Can you tell us about this photograph you brought here?
GUEST: Yes, the photo is a picture of my husband taken when he was two years old-- it was taken in 1926-- sitting in the lap of his grandmother in the chair.
APPRAISER: In the same chair.
APPRAISER: Well, these are called easy chairs or wing chairs. And this chair form evolved around 1815 or '20, when this chair was made, and they became influenced by Regency furniture from England. Designs by George Smith influenced the Regency cabinetmakers in London, and the Americans also looked towards English furniture for inspiration. So a lot of the motifs we see, first of all the monumental size and the Greek ideas, the Greek styles you see in the barrel-form back-- which you see on Greek Attic vases-- as well as these motifs on the side. This klismos rear leg which curves back is all typical of Regency furniture and also early Greek furniture. This chair was made in New York City. And these motifs you see such as the... First of all, the drum form handhold, these waterleaf carved urns, and the inlaid crotch-figured rectangle as well as the reeded legs are all typical of New York during that period.
GUEST: I see.
APPRAISER: And chairs like this weren't just for comfort. They had other functions, and one was certainly status. I mean, not everybody in the household would be able to sit in a chair like this.
GUEST: I'm not sure that Jim's grandmother allowed other people to sit in it.
APPRAISER: Okay, well...
GUEST: She sat in it a lot.
APPRAISER: First of all, one recommendation I might make is you might want to get this upholstered in the proper fabric. This probably would have had a beautiful silk, possibly striped fabric, and it would have been tighter-- not as bowed out-- so that would actually change the look of the chair dramatically. This is probably worth in the area of about $20,000.
GUEST: Oh, my goodness, that is a surprise.
APPRAISER: Not every Federal wing chair would bring that much, but this one is the most elaborate.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.