Early John Henry Belter Applied Crest Chair

by John Werry on January 22, 2008

This chair sold yesterday and I kinda wish I had bid on it. Those of you who have been in the Victorian Furniture world for longer than I may have run across this form before, but I have not. I believe that the seller correctly attributed this to John Henry Belter (they actually didn’t use the word attribute at all). In fact, I’m sure this is a Belter chair.

Here are the proof points:

  • This chair sports an applied crest, which is a trait of Belter’s early work, on a laminated Rococo chair
  • This chair has hollow brass casters which Belter used
  • The chair has carved flower knees and skirt stylistically similar to his early work
  • The bottom of the leg just above the caster has a scroll pattern identical to the chair on page 6 of the Belter book by Schwartz/Stanek/True
  • The overall form of the chair is comparable to the chair on page 6 minus the pierce-carved element
  • The rear legs are identical in form to the applied-crest chair on page 16

Applied crest furniture was constructed by Belter in the 1840s and early 1850s and would likely have been executed by Belter’s own hand or at least under very close supervision. It would have been a nice conversation piece for the $375 that it sold for plus the cost of restoration.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Wiessinger April 20, 2008 at 12:55 pm

You’ll be happy to know that I am the winning bidder of this wonderul Belter chair. I had it shipped to Florida, took it to my furniture man and had it reglued and repaired. Did not refinish the chair but did clean it up and recoat it. It is wonderful looking and now awaits an expensive silk show cover I have found. HOpe to get pics of it when I finish the chair. JOE


Joe Wiessinger April 20, 2008 at 1:03 pm

OH I forgot to mention. When we removed the old show cover and all the cotton and stuffing, newspaper fragments were found from 18?? glued on to the inside of the back from the New York Daily Tribune , Saturday’s evening edition. Vol. VII #144, by H. Greeley and Thomas McElrath. Can’t seem to find out the actual date of this publication> Maybe one of you know how to access this information. Thanks would love to hear from someone who might have this information. JOE>

JOe at Flareuter@aol.com


admin April 20, 2008 at 1:44 pm


The Daily Tribune was started in 1841 by Greeley and here is an image with volume numbers from an 1864 edition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Nytrib1864.jpg

I would assume #144 would be some time in 1841 or 1842 based on simple math, assuming the inception of 1841.

Wikipedia article here

Glad to hear where it ended up. Thanks.


Joe Wiessinger April 20, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for your information re: NY Daily Tribune. Now I wonder if the chair is Belter since the newspaper probably would have been contemporaneous with its use and the 1841 or 1842 date might predate a Belter attribution. Any thoughts on this dilemma.


admin April 20, 2008 at 8:26 pm

Joe, we should double-check my guess on timing. You need to find a library with microfiche copies so that the date can be identified. It’s unknown how often they published early on and how fast that volume number VII #144 ticked by.

Belter was in the city by 1833, a citizen by 1839 and had his own shop by 1844. He was certainly producing furniture in the ’40s


Joe Wiessinger April 20, 2008 at 10:45 pm

The NY edition was a Saturday’s edition> So I wonder if the numbers referred to the Sat. edition only thereby pushing the date further along than the early 1840’s. I have tried to find microfiche but to no avail> Guess my library here does not have that.
Further, my chair is very similar to the chair on page 6 of the Belter book by Schwartz, Stanke, and True. The main differences being no reticulation and also my chair has a double banding around the back while the chair on P.6 has a single smooth band.


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