Strange rocking chair with lions heads carved into arms

6 years ago #1


And thank you in advance for any information about this chair. This chair has been in my family for about 100 years that I can confirm. One of my grandfathers earliest memories is of sitting in this chair, in his fathers office at the Stillwater prison in Stillwater, MN.

There are absolutely no markings anywhere on this chair. I have posted two pictures, and will take a picture of the underside tomorrow. The underside of the chair has strips about 3" wide that look like burlap, holding the cushion up, which appears to be stuffed with some kind of animal hair.

Other than finding out when and where this thing came from, my main concerns are:

1)All the joints seem like, the glue is gone, the move a great deal, should I/can I have this fixed?

2)The upholstery is getting pretty old and weak, again, is it okay to have this redone?

If it is better to leave it as is, I really don't have a problem with it. No one is allowed to sit in it anymore

I really enjoy just having it and looking at it, but it sure would be nice to sit in it.

6 years ago #2

Hello to PatrickinWI
Re; the chair.

This is a turn of the century model, quite common and not particuarly valuable in terms of a sole monetary value.
It is a high quality piece of furnitue, of that time.... and would have been very expensive.
Unfortunate, it has no great age and these particular kinds of furniture, were also mass produced.
Having said that, the seating done with springs and horse hair, does sit very comfortably and for longer periods. (just the opposite of some furniture, in the present day fast food places).

It is not made of mahogany, but another kind of wood which has been stained. I am unable to say which wood exactly, on the basis of the available photo's.

The method of finnishing the seating, is a classical quality method. The cushion, is not original to the chair. What you describe as being burlap, would be a mixture of hemp from India, and some Flemish flax, which supports the springs inside the wooden seat frame. The seat cover would have been of a "Gobelin" or pinpoint type of weave in the style of the late Victorian Medieval manner, inspired by the Englishman ...William Morris....
Not all furniture is ever marked. Even Mr. Chippendale in England, or even Mons. Boule in France did not allways mark their products.

Your points 1-3

1. Some movement in the wooden joints is always taking place.... 24-7 year in... and year out.
Too much movement however, is obviously not a good sign and would neeed to be restored.

2. Yes, the upholstery can be restored.

3. To restore or no to restore???

You express the idea, that nobody is alowed to sit in the chair.
Question....what would you and your ancestors deem the most appropiate course of action????

Question...It is a piece of functional funiture and is also made to be used, to be sat in... and rock back and forth..

Question....Is it really living up to it's expectations by being turned into a museum piece, which one can only look at from a disance and which is never used????

Restoration costs vs Value.

The restoration costs done by a propery qualified restorer, would far outweigh the present day value in dollars and cents.

Unless you are very much attatched to this particular chair, the restoration costs would be prohibative.
Alternatively, get it restored, use it, sit in it and dream up some way of beating the people on Wall Street at their own game.....and finaly pass it on.... when you no longer need it.....
One bit of extra news, which is a bit of a coincedence. I have some photo's recently taken of the flying buttresses of the Cathedral of Reims in France.
Those, forebearers belonging to the snarling faces of prey which are on your chairs, are also floating about 130 feet up in the sky and guarding the east apse from any ill doers. Those articular heads on the Cathedral which are chiseled in stone, they are almost 800 years old, whereas, the chair however, is from about 1910.
If interested...I can send you a couple of photo's of the figures in Reims
Yours etc...DL

6 years ago #3

Thank you for the information!
After posting last night I kinda thought, "why not restore it?"

I want it to be used. I wouldnt be restoring it to maintain the monetary value, the chair isnt going anywhere.

If they are mass produced, can I find pictures of something similar somewhere?

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6 years ago #4
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To PatrickinWi;
Re: The chair .
Unfortunately, I have no quick documentation available right now.
We do have documentation, being fortunate enough to be in possession of a private archive of more than 5.600 articles and monographs. At present I however, have no time to hunt for this specific item. Might I suggest that you go to the local Library and search there…….. but be prepared, as it will cost you an awful lot of time. (many days rather than hours)
You will probably start the journey at the turn of the century… in ca. 1900 ….by peering into a (modern) yellowing, gas lit draughtsman’s office, possibly belonging to a large furniture manufacturer…….probably in Chicago, then poke around the noisy marvels of the new fangled electric saws, planes and automatic carving machines, walk past the kilns for drying wood, and then move backwards…….. going way back via Mr. Chippendale and many others…… going evermore backwards to the 12th century, and suddenly find yourself nosing around a very busy medieval stonemasons yard in France…… taking care to avoid being squashed by the 2 ton stone pinnacle which is being hoisted 130 feet into the sky by the crane. Then take a leap into the dizzy pages belonging to sketchbooks of Villard d’ Honnecourt, just managing to catch your breath before speeding backwards in time to visit the busy, Forum Romanum in Italy…….. and discover what that has got to do with getting a parking ticket in New Jersey, or ……..a prolonged > Visit Upstate < in a small room with tiny windows and no easy exits. Then travel onwards, and discover the world of Julius Caesar, once there…….. sit right next to him on his gilt saddled palfry and look across the great divide……. as ponders the right move to make……. before he at last conjured up his deadly immortal words of “Alecta iacta est”!!!
Understand that journey…… understand all of that…. and you are much closer to the chair….. the shape and colour of the chair, along with the decorative elements of the chair….. and why such a chair was meant to be comfortable and radiate a specific message… opposed to a modern one in a sloppy fast food joint……..… and perhaps you may move close to your own grandfather…… who also sat in the chair at the Stillwater prison and the deeper meaning of “Alecta iacta est” …………but also just as importantly……… even today….. in this fast moving, hectic, modern, electronic age…………for some things in life……. there are just no easy answers……… and like the chair …… unfortunately……… real quick fixes……
To sum up…………….
These types of home furnishings were mass produced. They were made rather like the present day car productions, with small variations in colours, design, and seat coverings.
You could at the turn of the century, also order such furniture via a postal catalogue system.
A word of caution, unless you are a qualified restorer, please do leave this sort of work to the pro’s. ( make sure that the person, really is qualified should you choose to go ahead and get it done!!!!)
No, I am not drumming up business, but rather wishing to avoiding the tears of later, or a pile of firewood. This is not a “home depot job”
It is said in the same vein, as one does not take a Phillip Patek watch to a blacksmith, in order to get it repaired.
My words might very well be construed to be of arrogance……they however, are not… but rather, the words come from the … VERY…. many years of training and experience………and the countless, unfortunate autopsies………. when people regrettably, chose only to use quick fixes. I can assure you that you will damage the chair and devalue it completely, by using a modern 2-component glue…….from you know where. As to the upholstery……that’s a nightmare unless qualified………..
Yours etc…..DL…..
PS…………….Next time that you are near Madison, zip past the Capitol, or pop in for a few seconds…look at the furnishings and feel the atmosphere…….these are the surroundings which would best match your grandfathers chair………….

4 years ago #5

You're **** nuts

4 years ago #6

Must say: as we are violin restorers by trade, we second the opinion about professional restoration with proper glues and finishes. It is a sad and expensive job to undo a poor repair!

Save The Queen avatar
4 years ago #7
Save The Queen
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PatrickinWI wrote:
You're **** nuts


You have a nice chair that IS worth something. I might date the chair a little earlier than 1910.

I have worked on many of this particular style of chair and can confirm that it is a very solid chair well worth having tightened and reupholstered. Unless there are some major buggers I can't see, I would leave the finish alone. The chair has a nice patina which you do not want to tamper with.

There are non-invasive methods of reglueing the joints which I will pass on thrrough a private message if you are interested. Generally upholsterers are not very good frame people so you may want to take the chair to a furniture repair person for the reglue then to an upholstery shop. You need to shop for tradesmen. Try asking antique dealers, decorators, moving companies, etc. for referrals.
Probst54 avatar
4 years ago #8
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Finally some sanity. GSTQ

1 year ago #9
they_call_me_pickl e

I have the same one could anyone maybe tell me the price range??

1 year ago #10

I am the original poster, you have the exact same chair?
Do you know where it came from?

7 months ago #11

April 2016
I just found your photograph while attempting to gain info on my own unique loveseat and chair.

trying to figure out how to add a photograph

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