Skip to main content

Fan-back Windsor armchair

Search the Collection

Fan-back Windsor armchair

Delaware Valley or Chester County, Pennsylvania

1790-1805 36 in x 22-3/4 in x 21-1/4 in Tulip poplar (seat), walnut (arms), maple (legs, stretchers, and arm posts), oak (hoop), hickory (spindles)

Historic Odessa Foundation


“SMEDLEY” is branded into the underside of the seat. 

A screw in the bottom of the right arm is a later repair. 

Although no accession record appears to have been made in 1977, objects accessioned before and after this accession number came as gifts of Hugh R. and Bayard Sharp, who were sons of H. Rodney Sharp and donated objects once owned by their father.

Windsor chair historian Nancy Goyne Evans found no evidence of a Windsor chairmaker named Smedley, leading her to conclude that the brand represented an owner’s name rather than that of a maker (American Windsor Chairs [1996], p. 710).  According to Gilbert Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family (1901), pp. 10ff, George Smedley arrived in Pennsylvania about 1682 and purchased land in Chester County; subsequent generations of Smedleys settled throughout the area, including Philadelphia.  That history accords with this Windsor armchair, which resembles others from that area.  The bamboo turnings on this chair have noticeable swellings at the sites of the incised rings, which suggests a mannerism of the chairmaker.  Also, he set the medial stretcher towards the rear of the chair rather than in the center of the side stretchers.