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Backstool (side chair)

ca. 1700
Origin: England
OH: 44 ½ "; Seat H: 18 ½"; OW: 19"; SW 19”; SD: 16"
Ash; leather, linen, straw, iron and brass
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1954-990
Appearance: Blocked and turned stiles with knob finials support back formed by top and bottom cross-rails with inset vertical framing covered in leather with brass nails; top cross-rail chamfered on front top corner; original, leather covered seat nailed with a double row of brass nails over an added strip of leather around sides of seat rails; blocked and turned front legs on pear-shaped feet; single turned front stretcher; double rectangular stretchers on sides and single stretcher on back.

Construction: All parts joined with mortise-and-tenon construction. The front, back and lower side stretcher joints are pegged; upholstery hides possible pegs at the front and side seat rails; the rear seat rail joints are not pegged. A later peg has been added to the proper left front upper stretcher joint. Modern rails screwed to inside of side seat rails.

Upholstery: This side chair, with blocked and turned stiles, retains all of its original upholstery. Webbing and foundation linen are tacked to the top faces of all four seat rails. Long bundles of straw are positioned in a circle within the seat rails six inches deep from the front and sides and four inches from the back, leaving an oval cavity in the center of the seat; Russia leather is stretched over the top and secured to the outside faces of the seat rails. An extra strip of leather is nailed around the sides of the seat rails with brass nails, covering the upholstery tacks holding the top leather in place. The leather is notched at the corners to accommodate the stiles. A series of half-inch stitches run vertically through all the layers to hold the straw in place, resulting in a decorative oval and a cavity in the center of the seat.

Covering the foundation linen and straw, the leather on the back of the chair is tacked to the bottom of the front face of the inset vertical frame, wrapped around the top of the frame, and secured to the back face of the crest rail with forged nails. A double border of brass nails decorates the front face of the inset frame and serves the functional purpose of securing the leather to the inner stiles.

Materials: Ash, leather, linen, straw, and brass.
Label:Upholsterers used different methods when they covered the backs of seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century turned side chairs. Sometimes they tacked just a piece of leather to the front face of the back frame. Other times they tacked a piece of foundation linen to the frame and covered it with leather but did not add stuffing. The back of this chair retains the original foundation linen and straw stuffing. At some point during the life of this chair, brass nails were added on the lower edge of the back in between the existing rows of brass nails to form the date 1711.