ANTIQUE CHAIRS - Victorian - Early 20th Century - Antique Wing Chairs (upholstered) - Corner -
Reading, Writing, Desk and Library
VICTORIAN 1840 - 1885
The most familiar Victorian chair, made in various forms and for a variety of rooms, long after its rococo or 'Old French' style was
generally unfashionable. The rounded seat and waisted back reflected contemporary dress fashion.
Great variations in price. Most valuable whether sets or singles - are rosewood, followed by walnut, then mahogany. Stained beech considerably cheaper: Fine carving and cabriole legs add to value. Price of singles now into three figures, sets of any quality into four.
Papier mache is very collectable. Price of one of these can be equivalent to a set of six
others of low quality.
EARLY 20th CENTURY 1840 - 1915
More varied in style and quality than any time before or since, traditional
hand craftsmanship having to compete with cheaper mass-manufacture aided by machinery. Numerous
pastiches of historic styles (plus later reproductions) and new arts and crafts, aesthetic and progressive or art nouveau styles appeared at various
times. Sets of (usually six) side chairs were often purchased en suite with sofa (or chaise
lounge) and pair of easy chairs.
Styles are too varied to describe in detail, but the broad categories are:
Rococo, Gothic, Elizabethan (or 'Jacobean') and Renaissance.
Extremely variable, according to quality. In general, the same rules apply for sets versus singles as for chairs of other dates, but
prices often start at a lower base, definitely in two rather than three figures. A reputable maker's
stamp (say Gillow's or Shoolbred's) or a verified design by a noted aesthetic or arts
and crafts designer will certainly add to the value.
WING CHAIRS (UPHOLSTERED) 1700 on
Deriving from adjustable-back French sleeping J , chairs of the
1670s and made in virtually standard 18thC form at various times until the present day, wing chairs were for relaxation, not
formal use. The wings protected the sitter from draughts.
Victorian: Various simple curving outlines and stumpy turned bun feet on castors. Reproduction Queen Anne with thin cabrioles around the end of the century.
Surviving upholstered chairs made for drawing rooms date mostly from after 1720 and,
although originally made in sets, are more often found today in pairs, or even
singles. Many resemble contemporary dining-chairs with the design of legs and stretchers and the general
shape of arms, but have fully upholstered seats (sometimes with a show-wood rail), fully or
partly holstered backs and mostly open arms with padded rests. Some (particularly those with riole legs) will have shaped and carved rear legs.
18thC chairs certainly in four figures, some early ones almost into five, but decreasing
towards three according to date and simplicity of design. Original, usable upholstery is a
Mostly in the lower half of four-figure sums, decreasing with younger age. The grandest,
highly carved and gilded chairs with good provenance are at a premium.
CORNER CHAIRS 1710 -1915
Peculiar to the 19thC, and to the late Victorian Edwardian period, corner chairs are thought by some to have been designed as gentlemen's writing chairs. Nearly always single, only rarely seen in pairs. Despite their awkward and uncomfortable appearance, surprisingly numerous today, Country versions abound. Often made as commode chairs.
Walnut Queen Anne cabriole leg versions are! the most sought after.
READING, WRITING AND LIBRARY CHAIRS 1700-1900
Various gentlemen's reading and writing chairs evolved during the 18thC for use in
libraries and studies and, in the 19thC, in clubs.
The rarity of horseman's chairs and elegance of bergeres usually push their prices into four
figures. Pairs of the latter are especially sought after and often more than the normal three times the price of a single.
Victorian desk and club chairs vary according to quality, but most are somewhere in the low hundreds.
New leather upholstery on all types should be valued at cost.