Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Wisconsin Chair Company Chair No. 182
We have a Wisconsin Chair Company chair (not rocker) that I have been trying to research, but have been unsuccessful in my attempts. The chair has a small rectangular label on the bottom that very clearly reads, "Wisconsin Chair Company No. 182." It has slightly padded, upholstered square in the middle of the seat. It also has a painted flower that could possibly be a lily on the top/front of the chair's back (looks like a classic American folk art design. I have looked at every picture and catalog I can find online of Wisconsin Chair Company chairs and have not found anything close. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about this chair. Is it worth anything? Would museums be interested? Is it rare? It is definitely not in great shape, but I am not an expert and would not know how to classify it (fair, poor, and etc.). I will send a picture to the email listed above so that you can see exactly what I'm talking about. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you.
Hollie - Thank you for the excellent photos. Your chair was made after the Wisconsin Chair Co burned to the ground in 1899. The company recovered and eventually closed in 1954. Here is some history of the company.
Your chair was made in the 1910s or 1920s. It appears to be made of birch with a mahogany finish known as "simulated mahogany." It was correctly explained in the 1902 Sears catalog as being both stronger and less expensive than genuine mahogany.
The seat probably was originally either woven cane or a fiber seat, a type of simulated leather made of pressed paper and embossed to look like leather. Your can see examples here.
Your should be able to tell from underneath the seat. If it had cane it will probably have holes drilled around the perimeter of the opening for weaving cane in and out.
The painting or decal is a frog with a pond lily on its back similar to some of the ones seen here
but the frogs are usually depicted in the lily, not under it. It could be original but probably is a later "folk art" addition.
The chair was a fairly inexpensive mass production chair and it is unlikely that any museum would be interested. However, it appears to be a solidly made chair and would be a good candidate for restoration and long term use.
Thanks for writing and thanks again for the photos.