Pennsylvania Windsor Armchair, ca. 1785
Appraised Value: $20,000 - $30,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:21)
Senior Vice President & Director, American Furniture and Decorative Arts
GUEST: My father was from Mobile and moved to Philadelphia to go to school and stay and marry. And in 1949, he was moving his family back to Mobile.
GUEST: And my mother was old-time Philadelphia and wanted to bring some of the Philadelphia antiques south with her.
GUEST: So she went out antiquing.
APPRAISER: So she found this antique?
GUEST: She found this, uh-huh.
APPRAISER: Do you know what she paid for it or anything like that?
GUEST: No, I don't.
APPRAISER: Do you know what type of chair this is called?
GUEST: A Windsor, a Windsor high back.
APPRAISER: Great, exactly. And, uh, and how old it is?
GUEST: I would say... 1700s, maybe.
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, Windsor chairs were really popular in America, but in England, they really perfected it. There were similar armchairs that were actually at Windsor Castle.
GUEST: Oh, yes.
APPRAISER: And then it migrated. Cabinetmakers came here to America, and in Philadelphia they introduced the Windsor chair, and they were very popular in the 18th century. And the amazing thing about Windsor chairs is that they were not only made for indoors, but for outdoors as well.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: It's sort of like early porch furniture, you know? Now, this chair you brought in is pretty special. And part of the reason is that Windsor chairs themselves, if you look at that form, I think it's very inviting.
GUEST: It is. It's comfortable.
APPRAISER: It just sort of welcomes you in to sit in it. How do you use it?
GUEST: My husband changes his shoes morning and night in it.
APPRAISER: Changes his shoes. Okay, he's a lucky man.
GUEST: It's the shoe chair.
APPRAISER: I'd like to change my shoes in a chair like this. Well, this is, in fact, a Pennsylvania chair. One of the reasons we know that is the particular form: the turnings on the legs, these real turnings, the splayed legs. The shaped seat is very typical of Pennsylvania, probably around 1785, and of course one of the great things I love about this chair, is the spindles that go up, and then this beautiful-shaped serpentine crest with these volutes. And that adds a lot...
GUEST: What are they called?
APPRAISER: These volutes--
APPRAISER: --or just spirals.
APPRAISER: Ears, exactly. One of the reasons we also know it's made in Pennsylvania, is we turn it over and we look at this plank seat.
APPRAISER: And that's made of poplar, which is a locally-grown Pennsylvania tree. And there's all the hand-planing marks we want to see, which is great. Now, what do you think about the paint on this?
GUEST: Uh, I would assume it's original, the stenciling.
APPRAISER: Okay. There's an undercut of yellowish paint, and it got repainted early on, probably about 1830s. And that's when this leaf and fruit decoration got added on the chair. So it's a period chair from 1780s with 1830 decoration, but it's an honest chair. And these beautiful handholds, we call them, are almost like knuckles. If you look there, you can see it's really like, just like a human hand.
GUEST: That's your knuckles, yeah.
APPRAISER: Don't you think?
GUEST: Well, now is this the same wood as the seat?
APPRAISER: The seat's poplar and these are made of hickory because they're flexible.
GUEST: So this wiggle isn't bad?
APPRAISER: That's actually a good thing.
APPRAISER: I checked with my colleagues here. We put our heads together, and we feel an auction estimate on this chair would probably be in the range of $20,000 to $30,000.
APPRAISER: It's quite a chair. Are you still going to let your husband change his shoes on it?
GUEST: I may sell it and buy him another imitation. (laughs) $20,000 to $30,000. Wow.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 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.