Identifying antique or vintage rocking chairs is not difficult if you take a little time to research the unique characteristics of various styles and eras. Look carefully at the following images. They represent several different decades of rocking chairs. This small chair is a ladies sewing rocker, sometimes called a nursing rocker. The chair is always bigger than child-size but smaller than a full size rocker would be. The lack of arms allowed the lady of the house to easily nurse and infant or sew a shirt while she rocked. These are utilitarian chairs, usually simple and made from pine.
As you might have guessed from the name, this style of the rocking chair was developed in New England, sometime around the middle of the 19th Century. The rocker was derived from the Windsor chairs early in the 19th Century, and its design is partially attributed to a man named Lambert Hitchcock, although there were many manufacturers of these chairs.
Dating old rocking chairs
The rocking chair is characterized by a wooden seat that is curved, down at the front and up at the rear. The arms of the chair match the curvature of the seat, and its back has six to nine long spindles with a large crest rail. The back also has a slight outward bowing to it, allowing for a comfortable sit. The wood chosen was maple with a pine seat, and a decorative painting often adorned the cresting rail, depicting images of fruit and flowers.
These chairs are found in many living rooms or front porches, and they have a rich and varied history. The origins of classic rocking chairs, as we know them today, can be found in early 18th Century America's gardens. Back then, they were little more than chairs set on runners. At first, they weren't very popular. Chairs as we know them have been around since at least the s. Before that, the chair was essentially a stool with a back, and only the head of the . Antique chairs are those made more than years ago, while vintage chairs span the time up to the s. Fabric The fabric or upholstery on a chair is often the giveaway as to its age.
Some chairs are more primitive than others in design, while others have more gracefully-shaped seats and finely turned legs or arm supports.
Distinctive in style and perfect for any log cabin or hunting lodge, rustic rockers have been around since about the first quarter of the 19th Century.
They can be found fairly readily in the antiques marketplace, often made by craftsmen local to the area. Rustic rockers are often sturdy and dependable, made to last using small trees and branches.
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The style of the rustic rocking chair spread throughout America and Canada both, especially in the regions of the Adirondack Mountains, where people took their vacations in hunting and fishing lodges. This model of rocking chair is one of the most popular and sought-after models on the marketplace today. While some were originally crafted as rocking chairs, many of the Windsors available started out as chairs and then had rockers added to them, which will decrease their value.
These rocking chairs have a rich and vibrant history. The company is still alive and thriving today.
You can even visit the Stickley website to read their personal story, in their own words. This company was founded by the Stickley brothers, who came into fame during the early 20th Century with their Mission-styles of furniture.
The Mission has a very distinct and easily-recognized style, and was especially popular out in California.
How to Identify the Age of a Windsor Chair
Born inCharles Rohlf was an American furniture craftsman whose designs combined Arts and Crafts forms with Art Nouveau decoration, making for solid pieces with touches of graceful adornment, such as fretwork and sinuous, carved motifs. Most of his furniture is made from oak wood.
He opened his own workshop in Buffalo, NY, inand it remained in business until Today, one of his rocking chairs is safely housed in the Carnegie Museum of Artand this fine example showcases his distinctive, unique style that so wondrously blends solidity with soaring grace. Unfortunately, due to the handcrafting of his pieces and the exquisite workmanship, his pieces were regarded as expensive during his day and age.
When the Industrial Revolution hit civilization, the Arts and Crafts movement rose up in response to the dominance of machine-made furniture. In comparison to the furniture of old, the modern goods were shoddy and churned out in debased revivalist styles for mass consumption.
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William Morris, one of the forefathers of the Arts and Crafts movement, called for artists to return to pre-industrial methods of crafting. There were communal organizations similar to medieval craft guilds, and with this method, both artist and object would be reunited.
Antique Chair Cheat Sheet
It was also widely influential, inspiring other movements and modern furniture, and it was priced so as to be affordable to the common man. Perhaps the most influential group in the history of the rocking chair, the Shaker community has done more for the promotion of the rocker as a vital part of the American household than anyone else.
The underside of the chair often offers the best clues as to its general age. Look for a tag with manufacturing information, including a name, model number or even a year for chairs made in the last 80 years or so.
If the tag features a website address, that's a huge clue that it is a modern reproduction. If there is no tag, look for a stamp or even handwritten information on the seat bottom, in case the chair was handmade.
The Internet has information on many manufacturers and chair artisans, so you may be able to look this name up online.
The way the chair is assembled is a big clue to its age. If modern phillips-head screws are on the chair, holding legs or the seat assembly in place, it's likely a modern chair.
Slotted screws are somewhat older. Chair rails or the support assembly beneath the seat did not have screws at all on chairs made in the 18th century, whereas newer ones usually do, in the corner brackets. Some modern chairs made by artisans may not have screws either, but such chairs are likely marked with the maker's name somewhere beneath the seat.
Examine the material from which the rocking chair is made. Early examples would have been constructed from solid local timbers.
Victorian furniture. benches and stools. shelves and bookcases. trunks and chests. Recent Activity. Add your item here. By igotudeals 13h ago. Kittykatcarol 17h ago. By Elizamack 5d ago. By Mikejudd 2 wks ago. By Rutz 4 years ago. Aprilinky2 9 years ago. Bradfrombu 11 months ago. By Msmiraclemary 3 years ago. nannah 4 wks ago. The earliest rocking chairs were ordinary slat-back kitchen chairs-that is, chairs whose backs consist of a top-rail and a single thick lower rail-attached to rockers almost as an afterthought. If your rocking chair is like this, then it might very well date to before , which was when the "Boston rocker" with curved arms and back was. Research Windsor chairs. Before you can accurately determine the age of a Windsor chair, it is imperative that you do your homework. Consult reference books on the topic like, "Windsor Chairs" by Wallace Nutting, and go to websites like Kovels that are devoted to antiques. Visit museums that feature exhibits on early American life.
By the s, the popularity of homegrown rocking chairs was being challenged by cheap imported bentwood chairs made by the German industrialist Michael Thonet. Sometimes ebonized, Thonet's bentwood rocking chairs have the appearance of molded cane-work.
How to Find & Value Old Rocking Chairs by Dr. Lori
Early examples made by Thonet's factory are rather more elaborate than later examples from copycat firms. Non-bentwood chairs from this period were increasingly made from painted pine.