Chair Mystery Solved – Charles Klein

by John Werry on May 5, 2008

charles klein chairs Chair Mystery Solved   Charles Klein


If you remember this post here, you would recall that I lose sleep over Victorian furniture attributions. Not really, but close. I just hate to see the same pieces over and over again show up in auctions and on Ebay, firmly or lukewarmly attributed to various makers while the true cabinetmakers roll over in their graves. If we don’t preserve this history now, it only gets worse a hundred years from now. To me it is like attributing a Ford to Chevy, though they have marked their products better than the furniture makers have, preventing any confusion.

Thanks to Lise Bohm pointing me to a new reference book, I have solved the mystery of the above chairs. The book mentions that chairs like the ones above were made by Charles Klein and ones like them had remained in the Klein family through the years (as of 1980, the book’s publication date). Unfortunately, it states that his other work is unknown. I hope that any Auction houses that read this can help attribute these correctly going forward since we see them fairly often pass through their doors.

Charles Klein was a New York Rococo cabinetmaker at the time of John Henry Belter and J & JW Meeks. He produced rosewood furniture that was laminated like the aforementioned makers. According to the “American Furniture of the 19th Century” book by the Dubrows, Klein “did not join his seat backs to the aprons in the same manner as John Henry Belter”. I would be interested to know the detail behind that statement.

I will profile the book that this discovery came from in a future post. It is now one of my very favorites and Lise might have one left at her store. It is “Victorian Detail: A Working Dictionary” by Priscilla S. Meyer. When Lise is out of stock, you can also check here at Amazon.

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