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Plank-seat chair (one of a set of six)

Odessa, Delaware



Thomas Thompson Enos (1817-1889)


32 1/2 in x 17 1/2 in x 18 1/2 in


Tulip poplar (seat), unidentified diffuse porous hardwoods (turned parts and slats)

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation

Accession Number



T T Enos / Odessa / Del” is ornately inscribed in paint on the underside of the seat. Two other members of the set have similar inscriptions; three remaining chairs appear to have an elaborate “E” only.

Condition Notes

Paint is flaking on all six chairs.


Each chair in this set of plank-seat chairs (chair 1981.70.6 is photographed) is signed by the maker along with the place-name "Odessa."  That name, given the town in 1855, establishes the earliest possible year of manufacture.  Chair maker Thomas Enos, a traditional furniture maker, also made a fall-front desk (acc. no. 2015.57).

Close inspection of the chair reveals concentric rings around all of the turned parts.  Not an intentional decorative feature, these rings appear to be evidence of parts manufacture by mechanized lathes.  The only such equipment known in the larger region was installed in a chair-parts factory in a place called Chairville, near Medford, New Jersey, about 20 miles east of Philadelphia.  Assuming this identification is correct, Enos bought parts, probably from a factor in Philadelphia, assembled the chairs in Odessa, and likely painted them with floral compositions on the crest rail and back slat as well as striping all over.


Waters, Plain and Ornamental, cat. 9.

Nancy Goyne Evans, “Design Transmission in Vernacular Seating Furniture: The Influence of Philadelphia and Baltimore Styles on Chairmaking from the Chesapeake Bay to the ‘West,’” in American Furniture 1993 ed. Luke Beckerdite, 94–95, fig. 18 (Milwaukee, Wis.: Chipstone Foundation 1993).

Nancy Goyne Evans, American Windsor Chairs, 178-79, fig. 4-33.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 178-180.