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Side chair (one of a set of four)

Philadelphia or possibly Delaware



32-3/4 in x 17-1/2 in x 21-1/8 in


Maple, rush seat

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of Madelaine L. Reese in memory of Peter A.K. Reese

Accession Number



“WM. CORBIT HOUSE / ODESSA DELAWARE 1772” is engraved into a metal tag attached to the inside of the right rear leg of one chair (1982.294.1).  Chair 1982.294.2 has the number “I” in ink inside the front seat rail.

Condition Notes

All paint has been removed from the chairs.  The rush seats are replacements. 


The set of chairs descended in the Corbit family to Sara Corbit Curtis and then to her daughter Mary Curtis Crowe, who gave them to her nephew Peter A.K. Reese (1932-1978), husband of the donor.


Although this set of side chairs has a reliable history of ownership in the Corbit family, physical features suggest that the chairs were made in Philadelphia, rather than more locally.  Key factors include the scalloped crest rail, the Greek-Revival-styled rear leg and back stile, the saber legs, and the elaborately shaped back slat and front stretcher.  Had these “fancy chairs”—relatively inexpensive chairs made stylish by painted decoration—not had all of their paint removed, they likely would have displayed urbane decoration, especially on the crest, slat, and stretcher, all of which would have made identification of Philadelphia as the place of origin easier and more reliable.  In support of that finding, chairs of this form with evidence of fabrication in Delaware have not come to light, and near examples from Philadelphia are known (see, e.g., the set of eight “Patterson” chairs, Historic Odessa Foundation, accession no. 1985.56, in Philip D. Zimmerman, A Storied Past: Collections of Historic Odessa ([Odessa, DE:  Historic Odessa Foundation, 2023], cat. no. 52).