Vernacular Armchair, ca. 1830

Value (2013) | $100 Auction$5,000 Auction

I was told it was handmade. I was told it was plantation made, and I bought it from someone for just $25 and just because it was so cool, I just thought, "Hmm, this is a cool chair to have."

Did they have any history with it?

They're the ones who told me that they thought it was plantation-made from across the river.

Well, truly a very interesting chair, and I love this old surface. It has really captured the history of this chair in a very untouched, pure sense. It's a vernacular chair. I mean, it's very non-cosmopolitan, very rural.

Yes, okay.

So when we walk through this chair, we can see that this is really just a typical ladder-back chair, thumb-back stiles that we see. And what separates it-- three things that really separate it. These arms, which are turned, and these wonderful tall front legs with these great mushroom caps and you can see the wear on these handles. And when we turn it up, you can see that these were capped on.


So if this was turned from one piece of wood, this would have been so much waste. So we see this one little piece here that we believe is cypress, which would be indicative of New Orleans furniture. The rest of it is a mixture of mixed woods: birch, oak and poplar. Also, the upholstery, and when we say "upholstery," we're talking about the actual stuffing of the chair, not the show cover. And we have Spanish moss in this chair, which again indicates that this would have been Southern, Spanish moss being the moss grown on Southern trees and then incorporated into the upholstery.

Very common around here, mm-hmm.

The one thing that's a little bit suspicious about that, though, is I think that this is a later seat. This would have had one rung on it similar to this on the sides, front and back, with a rush seat.

That makes sense.

So while this is old, it's probably 100 years old as opposed to 130 years old or 170 years old. Because this chair would date from the first part of the 19th century, roughly 1820 to 1840.


Nowhere do they collect their furniture more fervently than they do in Louisiana. And what would typically be a $100 to $200 chair, if this were to be Louisiana... and the only way we can do this is through microscopic wood analysis. So while we think this is cypress, if that turns out to be cypress, that's a deciding factor. And it's huge. It makes it from a $100 to $300 chair to perhaps a $3,000 to $5,000 chair at auction.


Appraisal Details

Sacramento, CA
Appraised value (2013)
$100 Auction$5,000 Auction
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)
19th Century
Birch, Cedar, Cypress, Poplar

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