18th Century Chippendale Armchair

Value (2012) | $30,000$50,000
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GUEST:
This chair is in my family passed down from a first son to a first son. We don't quite know where it came from, but it's in my house and was in my dad's house for 50 years and we've used it like a chair.

APPRAISER:
Well, you have actually an American chair, and it's a classic. It's a Chippendale armchair made in Philadelphia, and it has all the classic characteristics of Philadelphia-- a wonderful scallop shell on the crest, these magnificent scrolled arms, these molded supports. We call them banana supports. They look like a banana here. And then they have the typical shell, scallop shell on the apron and scallop shell on the knees. And you know Philadelphia furniture through its construction. And you can see that the chair rail has been through-tenoned, the back stile. That's a classic characteristic of Philadelphia-made furniture in the 1760s to 1780s. And then I looked a little further as it was in the line and I lifted up the seat and I could see that in fact the seat does have-- I'll try to pull it up this way-- the typical yellow pine seat rail. It has a later plywood center section. This normally would have had webbing set here. But this is the classic shape and form of a Philadelphia armchair made downtown Philadelphia about 1770, let's say. These come on the market rarely. There's only two armchairs for every eight or ten side chairs, so armchairs are always considered to be up a notch in terms of market value. They just don't come on the market very often. Kay, you were telling me that you had it appraised locally.

GUEST:
Yes, I did have it appraised, and when I was there, the gentleman did ask me if I had another one-- in other words, if I had a pair. And he thought it was worth about $500.

APPRAISER:
Well, do you have another chair?

GUEST:
No.

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
It's the fact that it's an armchair that I can tell you-- I'm very excited to say this-- its value is $60,000 to $90,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
It's a classic beauty. We don't see them very often, so I'm thrilled and dazzled that it came in. It doesn't have its original surface.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
It has been cleaned down a little bit. If it had a grungy, dirty old surface, a chair like this could bring over $200,000.

GUEST:
What can we do to make it grungy?

APPRAISER:
(laughing) Time will cure that.

GUEST:
I'm afraid to take it home in my $20,000 car.

Appraisal Details

Update (2012)
$30,000$50,000
Appraised value (1998)
$60,000$90,000
Event
Milwaukee, WI (June 20, 1998)
Form
Arm Chair
Material
Pine

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