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37 1/4 in x 25 in x 22 1/5 in



Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of Charles Lee Reese Jr.

Accession Number



“WILLIAM PENN CHAIR / COUSIN JOHN COWGILL CLAIMS A CERTAIN / ANCIENT ARM CHAIR, IN WHICH FORMALLY SAT / OUR COMMON ANCESTOR, THE VENERABLE JOSHUA / CLAYTON, AN EMINENT AND DISTINGUISHED / MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS, WHO / DIED ABOUT 1740 / DANIEL CORBIT 1843” is engraved on a brass tag applied to the back of the crest rail; “WM. CORBIT HOUSE / ODESSA, DELAWARE – 1772” is stamped into a metal tag on the bottom of the rear seat rail; “EN” in serifed letters is die-stamped into the outside center of the rear stretcher.

“Cousin John Cowgill– / claims a certain ancient / arm chair, in which formerly / so tradition says sat our / common ancester [sic], the vener- / able Joshua Clayton, /an eminent and distin- / guished minister of the Soci- / ety of Friends, who died near / one hundred years ago–/ D. Corbit, / 2d mo 14th 1833.” is inscribed on a 5-1/2 by 5-1/2 inch leather fragment that remained attached to the chair until the middle of the twentieth century

Condition Notes

The ball feet on the front legs are replacements, and the bottom 1 . inches of the rear legs have been restored. Iron braces have been added to both rear stiles at the seat rails to reinforce the back. A row of brass tacks was removed from the upper edge of the seat rails and from the outer edge of the rear stiles below the arms sometime after the chair was published in 1959.


The chair descended from Daniel Corbit to Daniel Wheeler Corbit to Sara Corbit Levis to Harriet Hurd Curtis, wife of the donor


Called an “elbow chair” in its time and today popularly called a Cromwellian armchair based on its style, this chair was recognized as an early relic in the Corbit family in the 1830s.  Its two labels--a leather tag of 1833 and a brass plaque of 1843--place it in the vanguard of antique furniture valued for associations with people.  Given the "EN" stamped into the outside of the rear stretcher, the chair may have entered the Corbit family through Eliza Naudain, who married Daniel Corbit, author of the two labels, in 1833.


Sweeney, Grandeur, 111, 119, n. 2, 120, pl. 1.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 58-59.