Rare Victorian - A Real Rare Victorian Mystery – Part II

A Real Rare Victorian Mystery – Part II

hrshields A Real Rare Victorian Mystery   Part II

Where we left off yesterday in Part I of this story was that I was noticing some differences between Kathie’s chair and those that had previously sold at auction. The most prominent difference for me were the shield carvings. Kathie’s chair on top didn’t seem to have as deep a carving profile. Kathie’s had 7 prominent stripes protruding while the Neal Auction chair had 4 (though two more tiny slivers of stripe are in the lower corners). The foliage design is different. The Neal chair’s shield is taller and narrower than Kathie’s.

hrshields A Real Rare Victorian Mystery   Part II

Then there were several other differences in the overall chair (click the image below to see the full-size version):

bembe kimbel comparison A Real Rare Victorian Mystery   Part II

  • The skirt of the Neal chair has small knobs protruding, whereas Kathie’s chair does not
  • The arms follow the same general overall shape but the details are different: the Neal chair arm ends in a smooth and more bulbous shape. There is incising on Kathie’s chair that isn’t present on the Neal chair. The gadrooning on the side is different, etc.
  • The stars at the top of the legs on the corners are framed differently
  • The crestrail on Kathie’s has protrusions, whereas only the shield extends away from the crestrail on the Neal chair.

I could point out other differences, but you get the point. Now I’m left with the question of what is the story with Kathie’s chair? One could come up with several theories on what this chair could be:

  • Could have been a prototype that preceded the final accepted design
  • Could be that a company produced some knockoffs that were meant to be sold to the broader public
  • Could be an authentic House chair, or produced for other rooms in Congress

In my view, it can’t be someone trying to fake the chair to get $20,000 as I believe that Kathie has had it for 20 years and it appears old enough to be done at a time that lofty valuations for these chairs were non-existent.  I don’t think there was a financial impetus to make a fake when this chair was made.

Tune in to Part 3 tomorrow when I share my best theory on what could be the case with this chair.

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