Recently, on the Antiques Roadshow, a member of the public brought in a chair she said had been her family for many years. It turned out to be a Trade chair from 1681 and was worth a considerable sum of money.
Antique chairs are sought after by collectors who want them for their investment value and by people who want to add a style from the past to their homes.
In the Elizabethan period, only the very rich had furnished homes and chairs were made to reflect the wealth and status of a person, rather than providing great comfort. This changed during the reign of William and Mary of Orange, who had their English home furnished in the Dutch style of William’s homeland. Chairs were upholstered and became somewhat more comfortable.
The Windsor rocking chair was invented in the 1700’s and they were originally made for the garden, however, due to their popularity they were brought inside the home and in America, Boston and Shaker rockers became particularly fashionable.
During the Georgian period, England had three very famous furniture designers producing chairs. Thomas Sheraton was a furniture designer from Yorkshire and he published a book of his designs, together with instructions on how to make his chairs. Many cabinet-makers up and down the country bought the book and began to manufacture chairs to his designs.
Thomas Chippendale is well known for the decorative chairs of the Louis XV style, which were popular in the 18th century. He also published a book of his designs and they became very popular amongst wealthy London homeowners.
The designs of George Hepplewhite became fashionable at the beginning of the 1800’s. He made his chairs with wide backs in a shield shape, which were both comfortable and stylish. He too put his designs in a book, but he died before it was published.
The invention of machine tools, made cheap furniture available to the masses, but the materials used were of poor quality, which did not appeal to the wealthy Victorians and they still used bespoke carpenters. Manufacturers such as Holland and Sons continued to produce high quality furniture. They were cabinet makers to Queen Victoria and they furnished Buckingham Palace and the castles at Balmoral and Windsor. Furniture made by the company is very desirable today and has, on occasion, been available to purchase in both of the Scottish Antique & Arts Centres.
Old vintage chairs from the last century are still collectable too. Bauhaus furniture became popular in the twenties and thirties. This German design workshop used new technology and durable man made materials.
Chairs will always be popular with collectors and if you want to use antique chairs in your home, they will add style and charm to any room.