Neal Auction to Sell Another 1857 House of Representatives Chair

by John Werry on July 10, 2008

houserepchairneal Neal Auction to Sell Another 1857 House of Representatives Chair

If you followed the drama of Kathie’s chair identification here on Rare Victorian (Part I, II, III, and related posts IV, and V), you might be interested to know that Neal Auction is selling another of these original 1857 House of Representatives chairs.  Half of the chairs were manufactured by Hammitt Desk Co. of Philadelphia and half by Bembe and Kimbel of New York.  The order was split since it was anticipated that Bembe & Kimbel was not likely to produce the full order of 262 in time for Montgomery Meigs who supervised the construction of the wings and dome of the Capitol from 1853 to 1859.

As you recall from the earlier posts on these chairs, no one that I am aware of has photos or has seen one of the Hammitt chairs.  With a dozen or so of the above $15,000-20,000 chairs having popped up over the last few years, none have been marked Hammitt.  As we learned with Kathie’s chair, the stencils by Bembe & Kimbel can fade over the last 150 years and simply the absence of a stencil cannot be used to identify a Hammitt chair.

You might be interested in seeing this carte de visite, a type of 19th century photograph in the dimensions of a card (more information on the cdv format here).  It depicts the House in 1865 and you can see the desks that were part of the 1857 order of from Doe Hazelton Company, but where are these chairs?  Those in the picture appear to be different than the original 1857 chairs like the one above.

Neal Auction is expecting a range of $12,000 to $18,000 and I look forward to the sale to see how it goes.  More information at the listing.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Emeriol July 11, 2008 at 8:51 am

What is up with the green leather? Surely that isn’t original…

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RareVictorian July 11, 2008 at 9:00 am

It was originally done in “Red Morocco” leather.

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Kathie July 11, 2008 at 8:45 pm

No it is not original . The chairs actualy had 2 seats .One of leather, one of cane for the summers. The red was on the blue prints. it was not actually on the chairs as far as I can tell on the blue prints they where also tuffed that too is not the way the ended up. There where no brass tacks on the chairs either. Mine has the original back and one arm rest ,though the leather is breaking down it is identifiable. If you look at the picture of the one in th Oskosh Musem it was black leather as well and the one with Lincoln sitting in it also appears to be dark leather
The chairs where not on the floor when that photo was taken . Some articles say they where removed as soon and 1862 , they where considered awardward to move around ,so they where replaced.
According to Mieg’s Journel he did not like the desks made by Bembe & Kimbel . “The chairs are better than the Boston chairs The desks not so nice” . Hammitt however is in Philadelphia. So half the chair are made in New York ,half in Philadelphia . The way it reads I was left to believe that the desks came from Boston’s Doe,Hazelton and Co.
Nov 23 1857 reads ” all the desks have arrived today. One which I looked at it beautiful,well made.”
There is no mention of the chairs till Dec 5th.” I had a chair placed in the speaker place and worte the first paper at this desk.” to his father.
It makes no mention as to any differences in the chair which we now know exits. I am still hoping to hear more from the Curator at the House of Representatives having e-mailed her agin this week concerning this.
I beleive I counted with mine include 18 of these chairs 9or 10 of them are in Musems . Neal has sold I bieleve 4 . Southhampton Antique’s in Mass. has one with a double desk ,Neal has the one up tomorrow and Witheralls in Califorinia has on for sale with a desk

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Kathie July 11, 2008 at 8:58 pm

my mistake it is the one at SouthHampton Antique’s that has the leather like mine on the back. The one in Oskosh appears to have been replaced. There appears to be pipping around the coushion of the Oskosh one and brass tacks on the arm rest.

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Paul July 12, 2008 at 2:33 am

Did you see that Witherell’s has a desk and chair it is selling together? see http://www.witherells.com/Californiana.aspx?pid=98d1b5d2-9d9e-4709-a8de-029a2b30c0cb

It also has green on the seat and back (appreas to be soft, not leather). They want $32,500 for the desk and chair.

Paul

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RareVictorian July 12, 2008 at 9:10 am

Kathie, “The History of the United States Capitol” photo caption states that “The oak chairs, upholstered with red morocco matching the leather on the fly doors, had removable cushions to permit the cane seats to be used during the summer months”

Furniture gets reupholstered all the time, sometimes several times in the time period these chairs have lived. It would be interesting to know what they ended up with. It appears all the Neal chairs were reupholstered.

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Kathie July 12, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Your right pieces get redone all the time . This could be reupholstead and still be 140 years old.
Mine has the horse hair inside, at least the armrests do, the back is intac and I am unable to see inside it . There are small rusty tacks,not decorative, tinyer then that, holding the leather to the frame about a half inch apart. The whole coushion was held on to the back with screws that go up through the wood on the back,there are 3 small pegs jutting down for the area with the crest , that slip into the frame work of the coushion, to hold it in place.
I will e-mail some of the musems to see if I can find one in red
that would be neat to see. They might have some answers as to the difference in the chairs and how to tell the Hemmitts
I believe the one on Witheralls site is the one my daughter saw on the Antique Road Show . Some where on that site it commets “as seen on “.
I believe at that time she said they appraised the chair at $24,000. The chair is all she recognized so her attention was there and I think she was to shocked to hear anything else .I could not find that anywhere on the Road Show site however and they never answered my e-mails.
It is interesting that the double desk & chair on South Hamptons site is $85,000 .That is a big jump from $35,000. Can that double desk have that much greater a value? It even appears to be more frail then the other one from the photos.

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