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A Maryland or Virginia Federal Inlaid Chair, circa 1800

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Directory: Antiques: Furnishings: Furniture: American: Pre 1800: Item # 1081004

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Chicora Antiques, Inc.
518 Autumn Circle
Columbia, South Carolina 29206
1-803-834-3787

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A Maryland or Virginia Federal Inlaid Chair, circa 1800
A Rare Maryland or Virginia Federal Mahogany Inlaid “Heart Back” Side Chair, circa 1800 OBJECT: Heavily inlaid American chairs are spectral, illusive, and rarely appear in the market in any condition. The present chair is chair is remarkable in the fact that the delicate back contains absolutely no repairs. It is also significant in the sense that it contains a number of construction and materials that do not correspond with known documented Baltimore cabinetmaking practices, most notably in the fact that the seat rail design is constructed of mahogany; a lavish and extravagant use of an expensive wood that would not show as the chair was meant to be upholstered over the frame. Secondly, the chair’s frame does not share the typical diagonal corner braces as one would expect in Baltimore, but was constructed with two front champhered corner blocks, made of both tulip poplar and what appears to be black walnut. Two solid triangular braces, made of white pine, solidify the back corners, but appear to be a later additions. Both are inscribed in pencil “L” and “R” and are secured with steel and iron nails. CONDITION AND CONSTRUCTION: As has been stated, the chairs heart back is thoroughly free of any notable repairs or breaks. Surprisingly, the chair retains clear evidence of a “first period” upholstery on the back seat rail. Fragments of what appears to be a bright yellow silk fabric remains adhered to it by means of hand wrought tacking nails. Unusually, the back seat frame is solid mahogany. The side frames construction follows this accordingly and clearly shows ghost marks of a “close nail” arrangement detailing the original “swag and tail” motif commonly found on seating furniture from the American Neo-classical era. As is typical of Federal seating furniture, the chair’s legs have varying degrees of repairs but are largely original. All four legs have splices and the frame has been altered by means of an inclusion of later mahogany laminations. The chair’s front seat rail is a modern replacement. Unusually, the cross stretcher is not “half-dove tailed” into the sides, but are blind mortised. Though no X-Ray examination has been performed, the stretcher arrangement appears to be original as there are “chatter” marks from a hand plane on its bottoms. There are two modern steel screws below the rear stretchers extended into the legs. The finish is very old and there is clear evidence of the original surface to the chair’s back and legs. An ultra-violet report detailing the surface analysis may be provided to interested parties. The chair is deliberately being shown in an “as found” condition. CONDITION SUMMARY: 1) The shield-back, inlays, and rear legs are completely original, but both incorporate a 8 ½” splice to the lower area, presumably to assist in re-securing the “H” stretcher. 2) The “H” stretcher is original. 3) Proper right leg contains an 8” splice and a patch to the upper corner, but appears largely intact and original. 4) Proper left front leg may be a replacement with a patch to assist in securing the “H” stretcher and has a splice. 5) Proper rear left rear leg with a dowel hole to secure the splice. 6) Chair’s rear frame is original and made of solid mahogany, and the two side frames incorporate additional modern mahogany laminations on the top and bottom of the original mahogany framing which displays the original tacking nail pattern. 7) Chair’s rear frame retains partial remnants of the first period upholstery. HISTORY: The chair came from an estate in Charlottesville, Virginia. DIMENSIONS: Height 38 ¼, width 20”, Depth 18 ¼”.


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