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American Sack Back Windsor Arm Chair, New England c. 1770-90

18th Century American Windsor Sack Back Arm Chair Antique


Original 18th Century Sack Back Windsor Arm Chair
Woods: Hickory (arms, crest rail, spindles), Maple (arm supports, legs and stretcher), Poplar (seat)
Origin: Probably New England, though the use of poplar for the seat does lend a possibility of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Circa 1770-90

This is a wonderful early example of what has become known as a "sack back" windsor. It's origin is a bit difficult to ascertain without a provenance, as it has what are typically understood as New England turnings, smooth turned stretchers as often found in Connecticut and Massachusetts works, but what we are almost certain is a poplar seat - these are typical in chairs of Pennsylvania, specifically Lancaster County, where the New England leg turning was widely used. It was very well executed, the bowed crest with a soft curvature, flowing easily into the curved arm rail. Each spindle tenons through this crest rail, each with split-wedge tenon device hammered into the top of each to lock them into the crest. This split-wedge is replicated in all through-tenon joints in the chair. More uniquely, and as a testament to the attention shown by it's craftsman, each long spindle swells at the lower half in symmetry with it's opposing spindle, then tapering impossibly thin at the top. Built to last, not a single spindle has been damaged or broken, despite the very thin profile of each.

The arm rail has a soft upward slope, creating an overall backward leaning profile, allowing you to rest comfortably in a slightly reclined position as your arms rest naturally. Supporting each arm is a turned maple arm support, each turned with superior level of skill - if you are familiar with sack back examples, comparing the soft swelling and sharp turnings of the arm supports will certainly set this chair apart from it's peers.

The seat has a chiseled channel around the spindles, as typically found in this form, giving shape to the ovular shaped seat, formed carefully to allow comfort. This rests over four ring-baluster turned and tapered legs supported by an H-form stretcher, swollen at the medial and smooth along the edges. The stretcher is somewhat unique, often designed with a sharp turned-ring flanking the swell. It has a nice splay to the legs, comfortable and stable while still being quite angular. The finish appears to have once been a delicious reddish-brown, now worn mostly away into an alligatored overall finish that was preserved with a shellac, probably in the last fifty years.

This is a wonderful find for any collector of pure American antiques. It is fully original in all all aspects but the finish, remnants of which are still visible in parts to lend to what it may have looked like at one point, now with a delightful crackling dancing through it's parts. It is fully functional and actually very comfortable as well. It would be an amazing piece in front of your desk, a piece you will enjoy regularly and that will complete any colonial decor. You will treasure this chair.

Measurements: 23 3/4" wide (arm to arm), 14 3/4" deep, 35 1/4" high to crest, 17" high to seat

Condition Report:
Refinished, current finish heavily alligatored, deteriorated to rough crackling and with a nice overall patina. Old crack in the wood on the right arm. Light chipping to feet as well as typical use indicators throughout (scratches, abrasions, dings, etc.). Legs have been reglued into the seat during the 20th Century. Overall very sturdy and strong, fully functional.

American Sack Back Windsor Arm Chair, New England c. 1770-90
This item is sold - we are constantly finding new and interesting pieces. If you would like to be contacted if we find something similar, email us and let us know
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