The Lengths I Won’t Go To…

by John Werry on June 29, 2008

george henkels attributed chair The Lengths I Wont Go To...

Guess who is the new owner of one of the chairs in the recent Henkels attribution drama.  The lengths I won’t go to to make sure Rare Victorian readers get the best information …

In reality, I have been wanting to own one of these for quite some time and coincidentally ran into one this weekend at a somewhat local antique shop.  I’m still working on a revised theory on who made these chairs and part of it is based on woodwright’s observation in the post comments that there are two similar chairs – not one.

I still haven’t received my copy of the Lichten book, but according to misslilybart, there is no supporting information in the book beyond the picture and caption that the above chair was made by Robert Renwick.

There is an 8 piece Henkels attributed parlor set on Ebay at the moment.  The floating, padded oval in the seat back is the basis for all these Henkels attributions.  As you can see from the pierce-carvings in the seat back, the one above has relief carvings while the ones on Ebay do not, which look more as if they were cut with a simple jigsaw.  There is obviously work to be done to get to the bottom of all of this Henkels business …

More details on the parlor set at the Ebay listing.  Bidding ends July 2nd and it is currently up to $6,401.

e139 12 The Lengths I Wont Go To...

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

james conrad June 29, 2008 at 3:14 pm

mmmmmm, nice chair. lol @ the lengths you will go to to solve attribution issues.Lets face it, you’ve been lusting for that chair and now you have one, CONGRATULATIONS,very nice piece

On another note, has anyone here ever considered selling their ENTIRE collection plus adding in resources for a single piece?

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Bart June 29, 2008 at 4:29 pm

The set currently on Ebay looks very much like a set in the Dubrow book(which they attribute no maker). I have always thought these chairs rather heavy and severe in their design compared to other attribted Henkles pieces. Your chair in comparison has much more pleasing lines and overall composition. Congradulations on the fantastic new chair!

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woodwright June 29, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Nice find – hope you got a good deal on it. Put me on the mailing list for your auction when you decide to part with your Victorian furniture collection. I think I’m older than you – so if it’s when you die, I probably won’t be here to attend.
Why are the side bolsters for this chair, and the one w/ the blue upholstery you blogged about so dark? They almost look ebonized. Is it just dirty from time & wear? The chair looks like it is either Rosewood or Walnut – but a different/ normal color. woodwright

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RareVictorian June 29, 2008 at 6:28 pm

James, if I sold my whole collection for one piece I’d have nowhere to sit and there would be little light in the house ;-)

That said, I can see there coming a time when it will all get sold and I’ll put woodwright on the mailing list.

Thanks for all the congrats. I can tell you the chair is VERY comfortable to sit in compared to other Victorian chairs. The only problem is the lack of casters and the period height of the seat – LOW.

I forgot to put in the blog post the funny part of the sale – they attributed it to Roux!

woodwright, I’ll take a look at the wood and let you know.

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RareVictorian July 4, 2008 at 10:13 am

Woodwright – I’ve looked at the chair like 3 times to answer your question and best I can tell it is dirt that has collected on the finish. It certainly is not ebonized. That is also the area where hands/arms would have rested so maybe human handling (oils) would have discolored it over time. I’ll try to clean it when I get a chance. If you notice, the area of the bolsters that meet the chair back in the lower back area is not as dark.

I’m having a hard time determining whether it is Rosewood or not. Every chair that I recall seeing like this one has been labeled Rosewood but I really think this one is Walnut. Not completely sure. I don’t see distinct dark grain areas as you normally would expect with Rosewood.

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woodwright July 5, 2008 at 12:12 am

That was my guess, that it was just years of accumulated dirt. I noticed that it was lighter in color where it meets the back of the chair. It is probably the original finish – if it had been refinished, it would have probably been stripped, or cleaned up to match. I can’t tell from the photos if it’s Walnut or Rosewood – they were both used for high end Roccoco furniture. The most prominent feature of Rosewood is the dark/ black grain lines and the red color – but if it’s stained or has a colored varnish it can be tough to tell by color.
If you decide to clean it up – one of the best cleaners that won’t strip the finish (if you don’t go nuts with it) is waterless hand cleaner (make sure it’s the kind without the pumice – grit) available at any auto parts store. Work it on w/ your hands, a soft cloth or a brush or toothbrush for carved areas. Wipe away frequently to check your progress, if the finish is getting soft – stop – let it harden and go back to it again after it has hardened. It won’t strip any finish away quickly. It does a great job of cleaning dirty finishes. woodwright

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RareVictorian July 5, 2008 at 10:19 am

If you have a particular brand of hand wash, let me know. Otherwise I’ll just try to fine a grit-less one. Thanks.

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woodwright July 5, 2008 at 10:53 am

RareV. I don’t have a favorite brand of hand cleaner – I’ve used several different brands – all seem to work well. Right now I’m using a brand called DL (white & blue plastic can) – just make sure it’s nice and creamy – not real thick or pasty. I like to use my bare hands to work it in – less abrasive than a cloth and you get a good feel for it. The brush you use for the carved areas should be also be soft (a soft toothbrush or a paintbrush). woodwright

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