I was flipping the pages in the January, 2009 Pottery Barn Catalog that had arrived in the day’s mail when I noticed a Chippendale-style chair on page 161. “This is a good sign,” I thought. Most everything in the Pottery Barn catalog draws from designs after 1900. The chair is an exception, and its inclusion may be a sign that earlier styles, Federal, Regency and American Empire, might finally work their way back to being more commonly used to decorate American homes.
The chair was not shown in a setting, as it might even be out of place with the other decor shown in the catalog. For those who consider collecting antiques, but don’t want to live like an antiquarian, selecting lesser-used peices that are antique, like chests, bookcases, desks and dining tables; and more frequently used pieces that are reporductions, like seating furniture, is a good option.
The chair style created by Thomas Chippendale has been widely copied. Most often these chairs are made of Mahogany. While this chair looks classic, the store has given it a modern twist by producing it in a “glossy black finish.” Offered at $199.99, I suppose that Mahogany might raise the cost beyond a targeted price point.
While new chairs can usually withstand wear for a while, and you don’t have to be careful not to wear on an expensive antique by sitting on them, many reproduction chairs from the early century can withstand wear even better–they have after all had as much as a century of testing.
The search term “Chippendale chair” on ebay came up with 129 results, many reproductions sold as sets that averaged out cost less that $200.00 each. If you want an 18th-Century Chippendale chair, just from the era, not crafted by Thomas Chippendale, the cost is considerably more. Other commercial retailers including Stickley offer early American and English-styled furniture. I haven’t been there in a while but the prices aren’t online and are likely to exceed Pottery Barn. (as I recall, some items are about the same as a good antique piece without provenance).
On the subject of these chairs, next time you’re in Pittsburgh, be sure to visit the Heinz Center in the Strip District. There’s a Chippendal-style chair made by ALCOA of aluminum.