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With old-style cushions oŁ red, tied on with tasseled cords, a set of these chairs in a dining room gives a distinctive effect-especially with a refectory table and a simple Tudor fireplace. But in living rooms as well, one of these quaint, ornate chairs may relieve an otherwise dull corner. For entrance halls a pair of them may be used with a Jacobean tavern table or to flank a fine bit of early English tapestry. Although armchairs do not seem to have been included in this type in the seventeenth century, one may buy today Yorkshire chairs equipped with arms and upholstered in fabric reminiscent of that period.
The Yorkshire, or, as it is sometimes called, the Derbyshire chair is a quaint piece of old-time "joiner's" work and carving. Made in Yorkshire and in the adjoining country of Derbyshire, it is one of those curious styles in furniture which appeared locally so often in the English countryside. Antique specimens for those who demand originals are extremely rare in this country, although they may be picked up in England. But accurate reproductions are now made, faithful copies of the old forms, so well put together that they will last as long as their threehundred-year-old prototypes.
Highly decorative, this chair was one of the first of the open-back varieties the English developed, following the solid back or Wainscot chair of Elizabethan times. As was the custom in England when these chairs were in fashion, the seats are solid wood, slightly recessed to hold a cushion. Heavy stretchers give the chair a sturdy appearance, and the front stretcher as well as the two front legs are turned in the simple ball manner of the period.
Just how the design of the Yorkshire chair originated is something of a mystery. Some authorities see Italian influences in it, while others find Spanish and Portuguese motifs. Frederick S. Robinson, in his book, "English Furniture," states that the strong Scandinavian suggestion in the design may have come from the commercial intercourse of ancient Yorkshire with Scandinavia. There is, indeed, an interesting likeness in the curved tops of the uprights of the back to the prow of old Viking ships. While the Yorkshire chair is certainly as indigenous to the soil as any piece of furniture may be, the carved open-back type of chairof which it is one example-was found in Spain, Italy and other European countries at the time or before the English type was developed.