English William and Mary Wing-Back Great Chair, ca. 1650
Appraised Value: $4,000 - $8,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:24)
GUEST: I've brought an old boudoir chair. I call it that; I'm not sure that's the right term. It's a potty chair. It's been in my mother-in-law's family for quite a few years. She inherited it from her father or grandfather. And it came originally from England.
APPRAISER: And you were telling an interesting story about the grandfather and the chair.
GUEST: Well, in England, only the first son could inherit. Her relative was a second son, and this chair is his only inheritance.
APPRAISER: Well, if I were that son, I'd be a happy camper, because this is a pretty rare chair. Do you have any idea of how old it is?
GUEST: I really don't. I know it's well over a hundred years.
APPRAISER: Would it surprise you if I told you it was about 350 years old? This is what we describe as a William and Mary great chair.
GUEST: A great chair?
APPRAISER: And it was made in England about 1640 to 1660. It's a wonderful elmwood great chair. And what's really unique about this chair is that it was created by a turner, rather than a cabinetmaker. So all these parts were turned on a hand lathe. You'll see all these lines. These are scribe lines and layout marks. You also notice that there are no nails or screws on this chair.
GUEST: Right. We knew that.
APPRAISER: Right here we see a wonderful crescent-shaped metal device that goes through this arm and screws in the back. What we're looking at here is a late-19th-century repair. We can date it based on the square nut that we see here. It's a part of its history. It's fantastic. And what's really special, too, about this chair is its form. It's one of the early predecessors of a wing chair, so if you think of these kind of Queen Anne upholstered chairs, this is what you're looking at, these wings. You mentioned early on that this was a potty chair. And if you don't mind, I'll pop the seat up. So you've got a circle in the bottom here, and there would have been a...
GUEST: Chamber pot.
APPRAISER: A chamber pot-- exactly. And sometimes you'll find that these are often called "invalid chairs," and they were moved to the back bedrooms, a very utilitarian object. This slip seat is a later addition, but you know, it certainly has some age. This is actually a black horsehair upholstery on here.
GUEST: Is it?
APPRAISER: Yes, which would have been early 19th century upholstery. So it's been on there for quite some time. Another thing I should point out is it's a fantastic surface. Wonderful patina. And if you look at the top part here, you'll see it's a little more worn.
APPRAISER: From the head. Gradually come down to the back, where the back probably didn't touch. It's a little darker in color. And if you continue to the arms, you'll see the same thing, where the arms rested here. It's nice, soft patina, and as you get to the ends, it gets a little darker. Now, there are some condition issues. You've got a little piece of wood missing here. You've got these repairs. This side, some of the...
GUEST: Pegs are loose.
APPRAISER: Pegs are loose, but that's okay. Any idea of value?
APPRAISER: At auction, we'd say $4,000 to $8,000.
GUEST: No way.
APPRAISER: Absolutely. Now, I don't want to ruin your day, but because this is such a rare chair, if it was American, we'd probably say $150,000 to $250,000.
GUEST: My mother-in-law used to say that she was punished as a child. She was made to sit in the chair like a time out.
APPRAISER: I wouldn't mind getting put in this "time out" chair.
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.