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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Windsor Chairs

Originating in England in the 1500's, Windsor chairs became a great favorite here in America and were made in vast amounts from 1725 up to, and including, today. English forms vary from ours, particularly in that their versions have a splat in the middle of the back while ours are composed of all spindles.

The popularity of Windsor chairs was always high because these simple wooden chairs are attractive as well as comfortable. Records show that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson ordered Windsors in quantity, Jefferson referring to them by the English name of "stick chairs." These comfortable chairs have graced the White House as well as numberless humble cottages all over our country.

Very old Windsors were made partly of seasoned and partly of unseasoned woods; thus insuring added strength to the finished chair, for when the green wood dried it shrank, grabbing tightly to the already seasoned parts, forming a stronger bond than could be effected by glue.

Several woods were used in their construction: Hickory for hoops, ash or hickory for spindles, pine for seats, and maple or birch for the legs. These were usually painted, and all colors have been found, but the particular favorite was green.

Many forms of Windsor chairs were made. The rarest and most valuable is the writing arm Windsor, followed by the three-backed chair.

The earlier and better examples had deeply shaped seats and well-splayed legs. Later, seats became squarer and there was less splay to the legs. Very late Windsors deteriorated into the plank seat, arrow-back chairs which bear little resemblance to stately Windsor and are not considered to be Windsor chairs at all. Another debased form is known as the captain's chair.

Other forms of Windsors include the Boston rocker and the mammy benches, which were so long that they were sold by the foot (records show that Hitchock charged forty cents per foot). A fine Windsor chair is a welcome addition to any room.

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