antique rocking chairs
14 May, 2021
Small rocking chair with caning on seat and back
(1) Size: This small rocker has a caned seat 19" x 18", with the caned part being 14-1/2 x 16 on the top. The seat is 14" from the floor, seat to top of back is 21". There is a caned rectangle in the back which measures 7-1/2" x 7". (2) Missing pieces: There are pieces missing from each side of the caned rectangle in the back, which still has carved pieces on its top and bottom, but on each side there are 2 small nail holes and on those sides there is a change in color where a couple of similarly carved pieces were probably attached. (3) Finiish: The shinier posts connected to the top and lower back chair frame seem to have a different color and luster than the rest of the wood, but from the back it appears they are also had carved at where they meet the top of the back so the luster would be from hand oil from carrying the chair, holding those posts. The finish is mostly dull and does not seem shellacked but more like oil-rubbed. But at the very top edge of one carved design on the top of the back, there is a shiny substance where a finish is dripping very slightly, and when scraped with a fingernail, it is brittle and flakes off revealing a lighter color underneath the drip, so that would seem to show it was shellacked. The front of the seat has the uneven lighter look of a once-stained wood where the stain has been worn off. (4) Hand-carving: The rockers themselves are hand-carved as can be seen from tooling marks on the bottom of the rockers and the shape of the rockers at the back ends. Many of the designs are slightly different on the left and right, so that it is clear they were hand-carved. The half-moon side pieces are hand-carved because they are not exactly the same. (5) Screws covered and uncovered: There are wooden round pieces on the lower legs of the back approximately where the seat connects to those back lower legs. Those may be inserts which probably cover screws holding the seat onto the lower back posts. On the underside of the seat, 2 screws are visible on each side holding the two half-moon side pieces. (6) Identifying marks: On the bottom of one side of the chair seat the numbers 5 8 are stamped. (7) Insert where wood was not big enough: At the base of the chair back where it meets the seat frame, on the right when facing the back, there is a triangular wooden insert where the wood being used must have been a tad short. (8) Valuation needed to assess the reasonableness of repair: I have a quote of $240 to take it apart and re-glue it, and am told that re-caning the seat would be quite expensive, maybe up to $700, so I need to know if it is worth investing in all of that or if the chair is not very valuable, what should be done to it so that at least I do not decrease the value. For example, the antique restorer advises a plywood cover with a cushion, possibly needlepoint, would be an alternative to caning. I would like to find a way to use sheet caning and one of the new strong glues so the caning look and function could be continued.
Estimate: $50 - $75