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Windsor Chairs Go Back Learning Experience Home Page
 
Furniture Collection
The Windsor style chair is perhaps the most popular chair for those interested in early American furniture. Our collection of museum-quality reproduction Windsor chairs is designed using mid 18th century examples. The chairs are constructed using wedged through tenon construction - using maple, hickory and poplar woods where appropriate to the construction of the chair.

Our Windsors are available in a Painted Aged-Crackle Finish or in our Painted Museum Finish. Antique Windsors were painted to blend the mixture of woods found in a period Windsor chair. Our Museum Finish is recommended for the look of an authentic Windsor chair with paint history.


Windsor Chair History

Why do they call it a Windsor Chair and where did the basic design originate?

Most scholars on American Furniture agree that the American Windsor Chair was copied from a basic chair design that has been made in England for many years.

This basic style chair became known as a Windsor Chair because of King George 1st of England . The story is that King George was on a foxhunt when it began to rain. He sought shelter in a simple home of one of his peasant subjects, where he came upon a simple chair.

The chair seat was made from a single plank of wood. The turned legs were in holes, drilled through the seat and then were locked in place by wooden wedges driven into the top of the leg.

The back of the chair consisted of spindles rived from logs. They were glued into holes in the seat and then run into the chair crest or through the chair bow.

The King was so impressed with the simplicity and comfort of the chair, that he ordered several made in the same style for Windsor Castle. So a lowly handmade chair, made by the “common man” was now named after a royal castle.

The American Windsor chair shares the same basic design and construction traits of its English ancestor. Where the English chair was sometimes made from hardwood throughout, the American chairs had softwood seats, maple turnings and hickory spindles, which made them light, yet very sturdy.

Each region of our country made the same basic style of chairs, but each geographical area seemed to develop its own twist on the basic design.

The turnings on Pennsylvania chairs were known for their blunt arrow turnings and sturdy vase legs. The turnings on New England chairs were lighter and more delicate. Knuckle arms and the ears on fan back chairs varied from maker to maker. Bamboo turnings were done in all areas of the country in the 19th century as chair demand exceeded the availability of skilled turners.

Since these chairs were made of mixed woods they were usually painted in solid colors. Sometimes the seats were grain painted or the chairs were decorated in the style of the period. Settees, high chairs, rocking chairs, stools and even some Windsor tables were also made by these craftsmen.

To find a chair which retains it's “paint history” from the day it was made is a rare occurrence. From the collector's point of view, finding a chair with is original finish intact is very exciting; similar to finding a historical document.

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