Old Hickory Rocking Chair, ca. 1910
Appraised Value: $1,000 - $2,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:00)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture
GUEST: Well, the story goes, it was made by an Indian chieftain...
GUEST: …and it was given to our family, who came over from Scotland, and I guess the chair goes back pretty far. It's been passed down through the family, and they lived in the Colonies...
GUEST: and it came to New Buffalo, and I can go back five generations, with photographs, of all of us being rocked in it.
APPRAISER: Were you rocked in it?
GUEST: Yes. My daughters were rocked in it as well.
APPRAISER: Who is this handsome character?
GUEST: This is my grandfather, and he wrote a letter, a few years before he passed away, telling about the history of the chair.
APPRAISER: I'd like to read just a little bit of it. Your grandfather wrote: "I have fond memories of the chair. It sat in the sitting room of my grandparents' farm home. I loved my grandmother very much, and as a child, she used to rock me in the chair. Also, she would tell me that when my feet would touch the floor, she wouldn't rock me anymore. Secretly, I hoped that my feet never touched the floor."
APPRAISER: Very, very sweet. So the family history takes you back four or five generations, it sounds like.
APPRAISER: And one thing to keep in mind is, you don't find the age of an object by adding up the lifespan of those people. When you look at generations, people may have had children when they were 20 years old. So going back four or five generations might only take you back to the late 19th century, rather than to the 18th century.
APPRAISER: I don't know if you ever noticed, but the way the rocker is attached to the front legs is with a bolt and a nut.
APPRAISER: That's modern technology. These were assembled in a factory setting and you could order them from catalogues. How do you refer to this chair?
GUEST: The old hickory rocker.
APPRAISER: The old hickory rocker...
APPRAISER: What's it made of?
GUEST: I-- I have no idea.
APPRAISER: It's hickory.
GUEST: Is it? Okay. All right-- we got that right!
APPRAISER: Now, there was a North Carolinian who moved to Indiana... which I think is where part of your family is from,
APPRAISER: and he started a company called the Old Hickory Chair Company in the 1890s.
APPRAISER: Now, this chair is not marked, but it fits perfectly into what they were making at that time at the Old Hickory Chair Company in Indiana, in the 1890s. Your grandfather-- do you remember when he was born?
GUEST: Around... 1909 was when he was born...
APPRAISER: So this might be 1915, something like that.
APPRAISER: Well, that's right in the period when Old Hickory Chair Company was producing lots and lots of chairs like this. What I love about this is, your family history says that this was made by an Indian chieftain and passed down through your family...
APPRAISER: That's exactly the kind of history that they were trying to evoke with these chairs. Do you have any idea what it's worth?
GUEST: Oh, no idea. No clue.
APPRAISER: Well, they made a lot of these, but they have come back into vogue. It's probably, at auction, I would estimate it at $1,000 to $2,000.
GUEST: Wow! I'm really surprised, actually, that it's not older.
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