Roundabout Chairs

A style of chair very popular in the first half of the eighteenth century is the roundabout chair. Its popularity was probably due to its comfort, obtained from the curved back. It is constructed with one leg in front, and the other three legs carry through the seat to support the arms and back which are built on a curve. They are found in three styles, the transition, the Dutch, and the Chippendale.

Figure 516 shows a form of chair known as a wheel chair, owing to the fact that the underbracing has the appearance of spokes of a wheel. It is probably the forerunner of the roundabout chair. The back is circular in form and is

supported by the extension of the four back legs. The outer ends terminate in finials. The.back is in three sections, each mortised and tenoned into the upper section of the legs and each oval-shaped opering, which was originally caned both front and back as was also the seat. There are two legs in front and a round moulded stretcher connects all of the

Wsix legs, which are turned and terminate in plain feet. Wheel chairs are very uncommon. They are probably of Eastern origin, for the one n the frontispiece, which s the property of the writer, has bamboo pegs and the cane is very line, after the Eastern fashion. The writer has seen several ii i England which have the carved cresting between the legs :n the manner of the caned chairs. This

Figure 516.

Cane-Back Wheel Chair, about 17CO, chair .s the property of Mr. William WT. Smith, of Hartford.

Figure 517 shows a roundabout ljfr^ij^

chair !n the transition style. The legs T

and the stretchers on the front are II

nicely turned, while at the back the 41

stretchers are plain. The front leg ter- Figure 517.

minates m a Spanish foot and the others Roundabout Chair, 1720 30.

are plain turned. Chairs of this early style are also found with two splats, either plain or slightly pierced. The seat is sometimes finished with rush and sometimes with a slip seat. This chair is the property of the Misses Andrews.

Figure 518 shows another roundabout chaii in the transition style hi'ilt in the usual manner. he simple Dutch slats in the back fasten to a lower raJ nstead of extending to the seat rail. I he legs have double underbracing, as in the preceding figure, and the front leg terminates in a short Dutch foot similar to those appearing on the chair in Figure 491. This chair is the property of Mrs. Charles P. Cooley, of Hartford.

Figure 519 shows a roundabout chair with extension top, in the early Dutch style, quite closely resembling the chair shown in Figure 495. The legs are cabriole, terminating in Dutch feet, and the arms are rounded on the edge instead of having the usual flat surface. This chair is the property of Mr. Albert H. Pitkin, of Hartford.

Figure 520 shows a very good roundabout chair, the property of Mr. Francis H. Bigelow, of Cambridge. It is in the graceful Dutch style. The legs, supports for the arms, the seat, and the splat are all in cyma curves. The arms end in a scroll and the legs terminate in Dutch grooved feet.

Figure 519.

Roundabout Chair with extension top, second quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 519.

Roundabout Chair with extension top, second quarter eighteenth century.

A well-proportioned roundabout chair is shown in Figure 521, the property of Mr. Nathaniel Herreshoff, of Bristol. The supports to the arms are curved, as in the preceding figure, and the slat is cut in a double C-scroll design. At the front

Figure 518. Roundabout Chair, 1720-30.

Figure 518. Roundabout Chair, 1720-30.

Figure 520.

Roundabout Chair, second quarter eighteenth century.

of the arms rj a slight hollowing. 1 he ra on either side of the front leg is cut in cyma curves, and the piece stands on four cabriole legs terminating in hi d's claw and ball feet. Several chairs identical with this have been found in Rhode Island.

Figure 522 shows another c:hair quite similar to that shown in the preceding figure. 1 he legs and supports for the arms and the splat are composed of cyma

Armchair Eighteenth Century Dutch

Figure 521. Figure 522.

Roundabout Chair, third quarter Roundabout Chair, third quarter eighteenth century. eighteenth century.

Figure 521. Figure 522.

Roundabout Chair, third quarter Roundabout Chair, third quarter eighteenth century. eighteenth century.

curves, but the seat rail is straight. A deep skirt extends below the seat rail. The arms are in the usual flat form and the legs terminate in bird's claw and hall feet, anil ojta the front knee is carved a shell. This chair is the property of Mr. II. W. Erving.

Figure 523 shows another roundabout chair, the property of Mr. II. W. Erving. ie front leg is cabriole, terminating in a Dutch foot; the other legs are straight, terminating in the same feet. The legs are underbraced with a turned X bracing. The splat is pierced n a scroll design the same as that shown on the Chippendale chair (Figure 543). The seat rail is curved.

^'igure 524 shows a very handsome roundabout chair with extension top. "here are four cabriole legs, terminating in bird's claw and ball feet, and on the knee of the front leg is carved a shell. The legs are underbraced with turned X bracing. The supports for the arms are turned and the splats are cut in a Chip-

Figure 523.

Roundabout Chair, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 523.

Roundabout Chair, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 524.

Roundabout Chair with extension top, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 524.

Roundabout Chair with extension top, third quarter eighteenth century.

pendale design. The extension of the back is also in the Chippendale style. This chair was the property of the late Mr. Walter Hosmer.

Figure 525 shows an interesting armchair which at first glance seems to be a roundabout, but it has two legs in front. The back and arms are, of course, in the roundabout form and cover three sides instead of two. The splat is cut in a Chippendale design. This chair is the property of Mr. Dwight M. Prouty, of Boston.

WINDSOR CHAIRS

Probably no variety of chair was so popular in this country during the last half of the eighteenth century as the n ,. , wt• j 1- • t-l • • <• Roundabout Chair, third quarter

Windsor chair. 1 he origin of the chair is eighteenth century

not known. Tradi'ion says it received ,ts name by having been found by one of the Georges in a peasant's hut near Windsor. It was very popular in England all through the eighteenth century and appears to have been made in this country first in Philadelphia. There can be li* tie doubt that the standard was set by that city, for advertisements are found in the Boston papers stating that a local chair-maker has Windsor chairs for sale "as good as those made in Phila-

Windsor Chair, third quarter eighteenth century.

delphia," and at New York, in 1763, are advertised " Philadelphia made Windsor chairs." hat the trade was a large one is evidenced by the fact that the early directories and advertisements show that the work was specialised, and the expression "'Windsor Chairmaker" >s common.

Fortunately we are able to determ ae which were the earlier types of the chair, because advertisements often give [lustrations. In the earliest form the arms extended round the back, as in roundabout chairs, and there was an extension top either made of a bent piece of wood with either end fastened into the arms and supported by spindles, or with a curved piece of wood so supported. (See Figures 526 and 527.)

n the next form of construction the arms and back are formed of a piece of bent wood supported by spindles. (See Figure 532.)

The third form is the late form with the rectangular lines following the outlines of the Sheraton school (Figure 535).

By far the largest number of Windsor chairs found are in the earliest type, not only because that form was the strongest and easiest to make, but also because that style continued to be made in large numbers well into the nineteenth century. These chairs are usually found painted, and the popular colour seems to have been green, because many of the advertisements mention "Green Windsor chairs." The great popularity of these chairs was undoubtedly due to the fact that they were cheap and light and much more comfortable than the ordinary chairs with which they were contemporaneous. They were, in fact, the everyday chair of the period.

The English variety differed in some particulars from the colonial. In the first place, many of them had a splat as well as spindles, a feature never seen on American Windsors, and the turning on the legs was not so elaborate on the English as on those found here.

Figure 526 shows an English Windsor chair. It has a comb top and a pierced splat in each section. The arms extend from the back in the usual way and the legs are cabriole, terminating in Dutch feet and underbraced.

Figure 527 is an early form of Windsor chair which is the property of Mr. Albert H. Pitkin, of Hartford. The legs are turned in vase turning and raked. The legs on Windsor chairs usually pass through the seat and fasten with a fox-

Windsor Chair, third quarter eighteenth century.

Windsor Chair, third quarter eighteenth century.

tailed wedge. The bulb-turned underhracing connecting the back and front legs and the stretcher through the centre give further rigidity. The spindles directly

Figure 528.

Windsor Chairs, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 528.

Windsor Chairs, third quarter eighteenth century.

under the arms are turned, while the others are plain, slightly swelling. The long spindles which support the back extend through the back and fasten into the seat.

English Comb Back Windsor Chair Info

Figure 530.

Fan-Back Windsor Chairs, last quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 530.

Fan-Back Windsor Chairs, last quarter eighteenth century.

All of these features are common to all Windsor cha'-s. The ends of the arms on this piece are carved to represent an open hand; they are also found carved to represent a closed hand. These carved types are rare.

Three good types of Windsor chairs are shown in Figure 528. The first one, on the left, is in the early type with a very high back. The legs and supports for the arms are turned in the usual way. The centre chair has what is known as the comb back because of its resemblance to the old-fashioned back

Figure 529.

Windsor Chair, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 529.

Windsor Chair, third quarter eighteenth century.

comb. It consists of a curved bow-shaped piece usually, as in this case, with scroll ends and supported by spindles passing through the back into the seat. The third chair is in the same type of comb back but a little more elaborate. The centre of the back is a little raised, like the roundabout chairs, and the arms are carved in a scroll. These chairs are in the Bolles Collection.

Figure 529 shows another comb-back Windsor chair in the Bolles Collection. The turning of the legs and stretchers is finer than in the preceding figures, as are also the supports for the arms. The comb top is taller and bow-shaped and finished with well-carved scrolls.

Figure 531.

Windsor S'.ipper-Chair, Dutch feet, last quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 533.

Windsor Chair, last quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 532.

Windsor Chairs, last quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 530 shows a pair of what are called fan-back Windsors. It will be seen that they are really the side chair of the comb-back type and, as is the ease with the side chairs of the Windsor type, arc less strong than the arm-chairs. These chairs arc the property of the Honourable John R, Buck, of Hartford.

Figure 531 shows an interesting slipper-chair of the fan-back type, the property of the writer. The seat is but fourteen mches high, while the back ;s of the regular height. The turnings are unusually large and the front legs terminate in Dutch feet, a most unusual feature for American Windsors.

Figure 532 shows the next type of Windsor chairs, in which the arms, -n-stead of passing through the back >n a horizontal line, are bent to form a h gh back quite similar in appearance to the extension back in Figure 527. This form of the chair is very graceful. It is quite common, but is structurally much weaker than the other type, as the chair invariably breaks at the point where the arms so sharply bend to form the top. The side chair, ^t will be seen, has the same general appearance, but the curved stnp is fastened into the seat. The back of the arm-chair is supported by two spindles fastened ioto the top and extendinq; to a projection of the seat.

W Figure 534.

Windsor Wrftkip-Oisir, last quarter

Another chair of the same type with eighteen'h ccntury.

a comb-back extension top is shov n in

Figure 533 and is in the Bolles Collection. The comb top is supported by five spindles which pass through the top and fasten into the seat. I he back is supported by two spindles, as in the last figure.

The rarest form of the Windsor chair is that known as the writing-chair, of which a very beautiful example is shown 11 1 igure 534. The back is of the same type as that shown -n the preceding figure and has a large comb top supported by-seven spindles. The right arm is enlarged into a table and is supported by spindles set into the extension of the seat. Under the seat is a drawer on side runners, and

a similar drawer is under the table. In front, under the table, is a candle slide which, when closed, locks the drawer. 1 "s piece is n the writer's possession and at one Time belonged to the first Congregational minister of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, and was not new n 1790. Such a piece may have been referred

Gothic Windsor Chair Images

Figure 536.

Figure 535. Windsor Chair, first quarter n .cteenth

Windsor Chair, about 1800. century.

Figure 536.

Figure 535. Windsor Chair, first quarter n .cteenth

Windsor Chair, about 1800. century.

to in a Boston inventory of 17(10, "A writing Aarir, 3s. 8d." One can hardly realise what a comfortable and convenient piece this is, both for reading and writing.

A later type of Windsor chair is shown n Figure 535. All the lines are rectangular except the comb top, which is in the usual bow shape, and the turnings are very simple. The rockers on the chair are original.

Figure 536 shows the latest type of Windsor chair. The back and spindle slats are painted, as is also the comb top, which is supported by five spindles which extend only to the main back mstead of to the seat. 1 his piece is in the Bolles Collection.

THE PERIOD OF THE CABINET-MAKERS, 1750-1840

The period now under consideration is marked by an extravagance of taste and fluctuation of fashions never before attained, which were primarily due to the sudden increase in wealth in the colonies and in England. The furniture was drawn exclusively from English models down to the introduction of the Empire style, and in their eagerness for something new the people, following the English fashions, rushed from the plain, stately pieces of the Queen Anne period to the rococo French designs of Chippendale; then, tiring of that, back to the classic for a brief time under Adam; then, in a revolt against the heavy pieces of Chippendale, to the over-light and perishable pieces of Hepplewhite and Shearer; then on to the gaudily painted pieces of Sheraton, who, under the stress of public taste, at last succumbed to the Empire style and sank into a mere copiest of the French school. Such is, in brief, the history of the chairs of this period.

This fickleness was, of course, felt more in the cities than in the country, where we often find two, or even three, of these styles existing side by side equally popular. In the cities, however, we find that the published books of design were offered for sale in the same year as they were in London, which shows the close touch kept with the London fashions.

Chippendale's designs remained popular longer than any of the others, for the reason that at the time the style changed in England the Revolutionary War was at its height and all intercourse between the two countries had practically ceased; consequently our cabinet-makers, not having the new models to work from, continued to work in the Chippendale style. By the time intercourse was resumed the Hepplewhite and Shearer styles were firmly established, and consequently we find few pieces here in the transition style, but there was a sudden change from the old to the new style. From the following coincidence we are able to determine fairly closely when the change took place.

In Wethersfield, Connecticut, were two men in good circumstances. One married in 1791 and the other in 1799, and each furnished his house in the prevailing fashion. The furniture of the one married in 1791 is Chippendale in character entirely, while that of 1799 had not a single example of that kind but was entirely Sheraton. This would seem to indicate that the Chippendale style gave way to the Sheraton somewhere between these two dates, although, of course, we find at much earlier dates Sheraton pieces, as in the Nichols house, at Salem, built and said to have been furnished in 1783 almost entirely in Sheraton style, with but little of the Chippendale; and the furniture used by General Washington, when President in 1789, and now preserved in the City Hall, New York, is pure Sheraton in style.

It is of the greatest service in placing the date of a chair to be able to tell with a degree of accuracy under the style of which cabinet-maker it falls, and we are of the opinion that the safest guide to follow is the general outline of the hacks, ""here are, of course, a few instances where a piece will combine two styles, or perhaps be such that no single rule will enable one to determine; hut these are the rare exceptions, and the following will be found to be the almost universally true characteristics of the various styles.

Figure 537 shows the backs of the four ( -ffererit styles.

A shows the Dutch back. It will be noted that the top curves down to the upright pieces forming the back, so that they appear to be one piece. This will universally be found true in the Dutch chairs, eithei in this form or in its modification shown n Figure 505.

B is Chippendale in ;ts simplest form. It will be seen that it differs from the Dutch in that the top rail is bow shape and the ends of the top curve up instead

Figure 537 shows the backs of the four ( -ffererit styles.

A shows the Dutch back. It will be noted that the top curves down to the upright pieces forming the back, so that they appear to be one piece. This will universally be found true in the Dutch chairs, eithei in this form or in its modification shown n Figure 505.

B is Chippendale in ;ts simplest form. It will be seen that it differs from the Dutch in that the top rail is bow shape and the ends of the top curve up instead

figure 537. Types of Chair Backs.

of down, and the centre is a rising curve, this form has infinite variations, and occasionally the ends drop, but never to form an unbroken line with the sides, and there is usually a centre rise.

C is Ilepplewhite. ] hese chairs are very easily disfnguished, as the back is always either heart, shield, or oval in shape, and there are but few variations.

I) is Sheraton, the general characteristic of the backs being that they are rectangular in shape, the upper edge often henig raised :n the centre and sometimes curved instead of straight. I hey never have a simple splat to form the back, which never joins the seat, but is supported by a cross-rai'..

By bearing these figures in mind and allowing for the varia 10ns, one can readily tell at a glance under which of these influences a given piece falls.

When Chippendale's influence first began to be felt it is difficult to determine, for his name is not mentioned, so far as we have been able to find, unU the time his published designs appeared in 1753; but 'udging from the spirit in which the Director" was written, and the extremely well-made copper plates with which it was illustrated, and the price at which t sold, he must have before that time established his reputation He died in 1779, and consequently may have been born as early as 1709, so that he could have been working for himself as early as 1735. On the whole, however, we think the conservative date of 1750 is the safest to give as the time when his influence had become somewhat general.

Chippendale excelled as a chair-maker in the designs he created for chair backs. As has previously been said, the development of the splat was distinctly English, and in Chippendale's masterful hands this became the principal beauty of the chairs. These designs were new and are his chief contribution to the cabinetmaker's art. His chairs were in Dutch, Gothic, French, and Chinese style, and more than one style was often combined in the same chair. In upholstered chairs he frankly copied the French, calling them French chairs, and some of his designs were exact copies of some already published fifteen years earlier in France.

Not by any means were all the Chippendale chairs of the ornate type so commonly associated with his name. Such chairs were expensive, and many of his designs, even in England, were very simple, but in both countries are to be found magnificent examples of his best work. The chief fault in most of Chippendale's chairs is that the arms and seat rails are not sufficiently good for the back. The rails seem to have been his chief foible. In the Dutch period the rails were usually curved so that the lack of ornamentation was not noticeable, beauty of line compensating for their plainness. On the Chippendale chairs, however, the rail was generally straight and, except in the finest specimens, did not sufficiently harmonise with the other portions of the chair, which were often carved. This seems rather strange, because F rench chairs of the period with which he appears to have been familiar excelled in this particular.

It must be borne in mind that Chippendale was not the only designer of chairs during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. There were also Ince and Mayhew, Robert Manwaring, and others of less importance; consequently it is not strictly accurate to call all chairs having the bow-shaped back by Chippendale's name, but they should rather be called of his period. It is highly improbable that the few designs of chair backs shown by these cabinet-makers were the only ones used by them. These designs were undoubtedly the newest, but judging from the large number of chairs extant which are not in any published book of designs it seems probable that the cabinet-makers did not confine themselves to these new designs.

The chairs in Chippendale designs whose splats are in the general outline of the fiddle are probably earlier and represent the effort of the local cabinetmakers to keep pace with the times.

Before taking up the principal designs of the period we will illustrate a few chairs showing the transition from the earlier pieces.

Figure 538 shows a chair with a Chippendale bow-shaped cresting and a pierced splat in a design shown by Manwaring. The legs, however, are turned and braced and terminate in Spanish feet, /he splat does not extend to the seat, but is set -nto a rail after the fashion seen on some of the earlier chairs. This combination of the early transition and the Chippendale is not at all uncommon >n America. This chair is >n the Bolles Collection.

Chair in Chippendale style, Spanish feet, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 539 shows another transition chaii wr.h bow-shaped cresting, splat setting .nto a lower rail, and turned legs and stretchers. The legs terminate in short Dutch feet. This chair is very low and is n the form known as a slipper chair. It is the property of Mr. Dwight Blaney, of Boston.

Figure 540 shows a chair with a bow-shaped cresting and a solid splat, which is the simplest form of the chair of the period. The legs are cabriole, terminating in angular Dutch feet of the New Jersey type.

I igure 541 shows a form of chair quite commonly found, i ne back is high, the cresting well shaped, and a carved shell is at the centre. The splat ;s slightly pierced and the legs are cabriole, terminating :n bird's claw and ball feet, and on each knee and centre of skirt is carved a shell. This chair is the property of Mr. William Meggat, of Wethersfield, Connecticut.

Figure 539.

Chair in Chippendale style, Dutch feet, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 540.

Chair in Chippendale style, third quarter eighteenth century.

Joseph Hosmer CabinetmakerPendale Side Chair Style

Figure 542.

Chair in Chippendale style, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 542.

Chair in Chippendale style, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 542 is quite srnilar to the foregoing, except that the splat is pierced n scroll designs. A shell is carved at the centre of the cresting and on each knee, and the cahriole legs terminate in bird's claw and ball feet. This chair is the property of the Honourable John R. Buck, of Hartford.

Chippendale Side Chair 1753

Chan in Chippendale style, thud Chair in Ch'ppendale style, third quarter quarter eighteenth century. eighteenth century.

Figure 542 is quite srnilar to the foregoing, except that the splat is pierced n scroll designs. A shell is carved at the centre of the cresting and on each knee, and the cahriole legs terminate in bird's claw and ball feet. This chair is the property of the Honourable John R. Buck, of Hartford.

Chan in Chippendale style, thud Chair in Ch'ppendale style, third quarter quarter eighteenth century. eighteenth century.

Another of the earlier designs is shown in Figure 543, the property of Mr. F. O. Pierce, of Brooklyn. The splat is composed of a rather long concave curve, below which is a large curve extending back into the top rail, 1 he same theme is found in the late chairs of the Dutch period and in many variations in the Chippendale period, lie legs are cabriole, terminating in Dutch feet, and the skirt is cut in cyrna curves after the manner of the earlier period.

Figure 544 shows a chair, the property of Dr. Frank I. Hammond, of Providence, in which the splat is n the same general outline as that shown in the preceding figure, except that it is slightly better and has an additional entwined design at the centre. At the centre of the crest'ng are carved acanthus leaves and scrolls, and a rope mould'ng finishes the bottom of the sk;rt. The legs are cabriole, terminating in bird's claw and ball feet, and on the knees are carved acanthus leaves.

Figure 545 shows another chair of the same design in which the design is worked out in its purity. Of course such a chair as this was the model from which the other simpler ones were made. On the cresting are carved acanthus leaves, and there is an acanthus-leaf carving on the edges of the scrolls in the splat.

Chippendale Furniture 100 Years Old

Figure 546.

Chair in Chippendale style, third quarter eighteenth century.

Chair in Chippendale style, third quarter eighteenth century.

Figure 546.

Chair in Chippendale style, third quarter eighteenth century.

Chair in Chippendale style, third quarter eighteenth century.

The arms are in the shape used in the Dutch period and on the knobs and supports is leaf carving. The legs are cabriole, terminating in Dutch feet, and the entire front of each leg is carved in acanthus-leaf and rococo designs. A chair with carving on the legs usually stands on bird's claw and ball feet or French scroll feet. This chair is the property of Miss Augusta Manning, of Hartford.

Figure 546 shows still another chair with the same design of splat but of considerably later date. The only carving is at the top of the cresting and at the centre. The legs are straight and underbraced in the manner of the late pieces. This chair was new in 1791 and was part of a wedding outfit at Wethersfield, Connecticut, and was the property of the late Miss Esther Bidwell. Of course, at the large centres this style had long since disappeared, but this chair was probably made by a local cabinet-maker who still clung to the old style.

Chaii in Chippendale style, about 1760.

Figure 1547 shows a cha.i in the possession of Mr. Richard A. Canfield, the splat of which strongly suggests the style now under discussion, but the plain scrolls have been broken into irregular curves. The cresting s well carved in acanthus-

leaf and scroll designs which extend partly-down the stile. The stiles for the balance of the distance are fluted and reeded. The edges and surface of the splat are carved in scrolls and acanthus-leaf designs. The rail of the seat is carved in a fret design. The legs are straight and are fluted and reeded and the underbracing has chamfered edges.

Chaii in Chippendale style, about 1760.

Another is shown in Figure 548. The splat consists of a concave curve and a ™ «ices. ^ >

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