Delaware River Valley Ladderback Armchair, ca. 1750

Value (2009) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

GUEST:
It's been in my family for many generations. I got it from my mother. She gave it to me about 20 years ago.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And it's always been called the Evans chair. It came down through the Evans family.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And another little insider family joke that we have is that the Evans all have wide bottoms so because it's a wide-bottom chair...

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
it'll fit. So, besides that, I don't know anything.

APPRAISER:
How do you use the chair?

GUEST:
We have it sitting in the corner in our bedroom, and I usually drape a quilt over top of it.

APPRAISER:
Where do you think the chair was made?

GUEST:
Uh, probably in the southern New Jersey, Delaware Valley area, most likely. That's where our family is from.

APPRAISER:
Okay, well, this is actually-- and the reason I'm so excited about this is...

GUEST:
I'm glad you're excited.

APPRAISER:
It's a really very rare, original, circa 1750... Whoa. paint-decorated and turned, ladderback armchair. And what I love about this chair and what makes it Delaware River Valley, 1750, are all the elements-- the turnings in the form... But this is particularly elegant and vertical. The turner's art was an incredible art in the 18th century and they had these big lathes, they'd turn out these spindles. And in the stiles on the side and the front stretcher. This is a bold, incredible Baroque stretcher. It really is very gutsy.

GUEST:
Yes. It's beautiful.

APPRAISER:
Now, this foot is a sort of blunt-arrow foot, very rare, and all the verticality is capped by these little pointed cones that you see, these pointed balls. This has its original rush seat.

GUEST:
Well, it's like wood splint, isn't it?

APPRAISER:
Exactly, it's woven splint, totally original. Looked at that color. And because this is all different woods, it was meant to be painted.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
So they covered it all in red paint. Now, this has had several coats of paint. If you look here on the stile, it has green, there's a bright orange, red. But under there is the original paint. And then this serpentine ladderback, which we see here, shaped to the back of the person sitting in it. Do you know about the one condition issue on this that...?

GUEST:
Well, I'm wondering, was this broken?

APPRAISER:
Exactly, exactly. Yeah. It would have had another arch here, which is gone.

GUEST:
I thought so.

APPRAISER:
But it's an old break.

GUEST:
Exactly.

APPRAISER:
Also, this would have had a cushion in it originally. Have you ever had it appraised?

GUEST:
There was an antique dealer that offered my mother $500 for it back in the early '70s.

APPRAISER:
Okay, $500, okay. Well, because of all the things we talked about, I would put an auction estimate on this Delaware Valley chair at about $8,000 to $12,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
It's a pretty amazing chair.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Leslie Keno Art Advisory
Waccabuc, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Event
Atlantic City, NJ (June 06, 2009)
Form
Arm Chair
Material
Paint, Rush, Wood

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