Treasures: Mahogany Chair

This is a lovely old chair, but is it a collectible by itself?

 

Q: I have inherited what I think is a 19th-century mahogany chair. I have done research in the library but cannot find anything that resembles this style.

A: This is indeed a 19th-century chair and it does appear to have been constructed from mahogany. But a careful examination of the photograph suggests the chair back is decorated with strips of burl mahogany arranged in a chevron pattern, and underneath this may be mahogany or some other hardwood.

The chair has slender cabriole legs, side piercings accented with large “C” scrolls and an elaborate crest with scrolls and leaf tendrils.

All this combines to tell us the piece is in the Victorian rococo revival style that was popular between about 1840 and 1865. So, the chair is probably circa 1860. Most likely, the chair plus a matching companion piece would have been used in an entry hall so guests could have a place to sit before being admitted to the drawing room.

What it’s worth: Single chairs are not highly valued in the current marketplace. For insurance purposes, the piece should be valued at less than $100, and at a big city estate sale, it might struggle to find a buyer for as little as $35.

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