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Side chair

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Side chair

Possibly Delaware or Philadelphia region

1760-1790 38 3/4 in x 23 3/8 in x 20 in Mahogany; white cedar (laminate inside the rear rail)

Historic Odessa Foundation, The David Wilson Mansion, Inc.


Roman numeral “II” is chiseled into the middle of the front seat rail rabbet.

Both knee brackets of the left front leg are replacements.

The chair was bequeathed by Dr. and Mrs. J. Newberry Reynolds to The David Wilson Mansion, Inc.

The splat design of this side chair was the most common used throughout the greater Philadelphia region.  Similarly, other features such as the shape of the crest rail ears, the patterns of undercutting of the seat rails, rounded "stump" rear legs, and side rails that are tenoned through the rear stiles were widespread, thus not especially helpful in understanding the chair beyond its general place of origin.  However, two details are unusual and worth noting.  The shell on the crest rail, which clearly resembles a clamshell, has flanges textured with paired horizontal gouges, rather than lines running parallel to the ridges in the shell itself.  The other detail to consider is a small wedge-shaped notch in the rear stiles into which the end of the shoe fits.  This extra workmanship occasionally occurs in some finely executed Philadelphia seating, but only rarely outside the city with any frequency except on a few simpler, Delaware-owned chairs. It also occurs on a set of slat- or so-called “pretzel-back” side chairs made by John Janvier in 1795 invoice, now at the Biggs Museum of American Art.  Combining all evidence suggests a possible origin for this chair in Delaware.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 121-122