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Antique Furniture/Circa 1850-ish Mahogany Armchair ?


Antique Chair
Antique Chair  
Collage of pics
Collage of pics  
QUESTION: Mr. Klein,

We acquired this chair from an elderly neighbor who passed away.  She acquired it many years ago from a dealer in Saint Augustine, FL who told her it may be a circa 1850 hand carved Mahogany American Armchair with Italian influences, but we're not certain. It looks to have a carved cherub on the center top rail. It also has two unique heads carved onto the armrests, similar to the likeness of "The David" statue.    
I have looked at hundreds of listings online and cannot seem to find anything similar.  Strangely, we really like this piece and do not plan to sell it at this time.  Any additional information  or insights you may have , would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!  
Barry & Laurie

carving 2
carving 2  
ANSWER: i need to see a very close picture of the wood so I can see the grain, might have to do it from the back side or underneath the seat rail.

Wood is probably birch and figured birch stained with an aniline dye to resemble mahogany.  More likely to have been 1880-90 at the earliest.  Some refer to it as Empire revival or second period empire.  

It is a great chair, has much more style and a better form than most adn the carving is really well done with lots of detail.  It would have been manufactured and machinery would have been used even on the rough carvings but the hand carvers that got it afterwards really went to work, its great.You can see the influence of Empire, Victorian and Art Nouveau.  

as an insurance replacement value I would put 1200 on it.

going to attempt to attach a picture of the carved figure on a chair of mine, a Morris chair.  You will see some similarities in the carvings.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Per your request, I'm attaching 2 more close-up pics of the wood itself.  The 1st one is of the back side of the top rail.  The 2nd one is of the front portion of the seat bottom.  If this follow-up doesn't allow me to attached the two addl pics, I will email them direct to you with the subject line:  "19th Century Carved Chair - Follow up".

Can you tell its' origin, i.e. American, European, etc?  Does this give you a better estimate of when it was made or whether it is Mahogany or something else?  There seems to be absolutely no markings of any kind on the bottom, such as a stamp, label, or engraving to indicate who made it.

Many pieces are not marked with a manufacturers label, not so unusual and without that there is on way anyone can tell you the manufacturer.  around the time this was made there were about 5000 manufacturers in operation in the USA.

It is American made and the wood looks like birch, a very hard wood, and common for this style of chair.  it is stained with a mahogany stain and has been recoated with some type of stain finish combination  since then.  It makes it very difficult to see the grain in the dark parts.  the fits t picture of the rear of the top rail or crest rail shows that there is veneering  or at least it looks like it and shows a repair.  i just cannot see the grain so i am wondering if they used a mahogany veneer there or if they used figured birch there.  same with the contoured pieces in picture two.  It appears where it is scarred and nicked that it is a layer of veneer over the secondary wood.

1890-1900 manufacturer but of higher form than most so you can be assured that it was a quality company or at least that this was quality.  I am sure it was part of a set originally.  a parlor set that probably had a matching loveseat, another chair or two that matched.  

That it has been recoated with whatever in the past, this chair would benefit from complete restoration.  If done professionally by a skilled and knowledgeable restorer it will enhance all aspects of the chair.

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robert klein


Regarding American antique, vintage, and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing. Please read instructions for posting.


I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of American antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars through several organizations.

Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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