Two John Gaines Side Chairs, ca. 1725

Value (2009) | $30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction

GUEST:
Well, we usually have a fall trip to New England, and a dealer had these chairs. And I had a friend who had died about a year before, and he was giving me for Christmas a carved chair with the same type of foot, and he had called them John Gaines chairs.

APPRAISER:
Reproductions?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Are they small, big?

GUEST:
They're small, about like that.

APPRAISER:
Oh, that's so nice. And may I ask what you... I'm just curious what you paid for them.

GUEST:
$10,000.

APPRAISER:
$10,000, okay. So, you paid $10,000. You must have known that they were pretty good, then.

GUEST:
I mean... Well, I did know from looking at pictures that they were John Gaines chairs, probably, from the foot.

APPRAISER:
What did you like about them the most, I mean, when you bought them?

GUEST:
Definitely the foot.

APPRAISER:
Definitely the foot.

GUEST:
And I just fell in love with them, so... And we were taught by our friend to, you know, look for things like that.

APPRAISER:
John Gaines and his son worked in Ipswich, Mass., from 1707 or so until, like, 1760. So there was this whole Gaines family that worked in Ipswich and Portsmouth and made these wonderful chairs. Some had crown backs, some had plain backs, some had carved backs, some were varnished, painted black, some were just white. These chairs have all the bells and whistles. Don't you love this crest rail with this yoke and this scroll here? And coming down, a beautiful vasiform splat. And when you look sideways at it, it has the wonderful curve that fits your back. Here we have the rush seat.

GUEST:
That's replaced, of course, right?

APPRAISER:
You knew that, right?

GUEST:
Yes, yes.

APPRAISER:
You come down to this double baluster turn stretcher. But the feet... you're right, the feet are so huge.

GUEST:
They're big.

APPRAISER:
I have never seen larger feet on a John Gaines chair. When you look at the bottom, they usually have extra pieces of wood laminated to make them bigger. This is actually solid, which you occasionally do see on John Gaines chairs. So it's wonderful that they have those big Spanish feet in the Baroque tradition. This is kind of a Baroque... we also call it William and Mary chair. This was really high style during the period. These were made about 1725, 1730. If these had original surface, they'd be worth a lot more. You know that these parts are original, but it's harder to tell they're original because they've been cleaned. All the surface has been cleaned. So you have to look very carefully, because of that, at the parts. The tool marks, the chips in the plane, are here. It's chipped right here. The double chip. And the same double chip, it's like a railroad track pattern, is on the crest rail as on the splat. So the same tool was used to finish the back as to finish the splat. So, that's a good sign. You see, little details like that tell us... You know, it's like a clue that it's original. And the same thing on the other chair. So, bottom line is they're a great pair of chairs, but they've been refinished, and surface is extremely important on this type of chair. They're made of maple. And auction estimate on this pair of chairs would be $30,000 to $50,000, their value as they are. So you didn't do bad.

GUEST:
No.

(laughing)

APPRAISER:
That's not bad, right? They really are, because they're very rare. Now, if they had their original surface, they'd be estimated at probably $100,000 to $130,000. But thank you.

GUEST:
Well, I'm very pleased.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, I'm glad you're happy.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Keno Auctions
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction
Event
Raleigh, NC (June 27, 2009)
Period
18th Century
Form
Chair
Material
Maple, Rush, Wood

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