It is widely acknowledged that the Windsor chair is one of the most iconic examples of English country furniture. Typically, village artisans would use natural woods like elm, ash, beech, and yew to fashion these items according to time-honored styles.
The Windsor Chair got its name from the town of Windsor in England, where the Windsor chair originated and was first created in the year 1710. The back and sides of this kind of chair, which is a form of seating made of wood, are made up of multiple thin spindles that have been turned.
They are attached to a solid seat that has been sculpted. It features straight legs that splay outward, and its back is angled in a mild reclining position. This is where Windsor design came from.
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What is an Antique Windsor Chair?
The peculiar English chair may be identified by its thick, one-piece, wooden seat, into which the legs are mortised underneath and the spindles creating the backrest are fitted in from above. This chair also has a spindle-shaped backrest.
In contrast to other chairs, this one does not have a link between the rear legs and the chair back. In its most basic form, the Windsor chair may be conceptualized as a stool that has a spindled back and is assembled using wedges and pegs.
Elm, which has a beautiful grain and is resistant to splitting, is commonly used as the material for the solid seat. On the other hand, the legs, backrest, and arm bow are often crafted from different woods such as ash, beech, fruitwood (particularly cherry), walnut, york, hickory, and even yew on occasion.
History of Antique Windsor Chairs
It is said that King George II of Windsor Castle was seeking refuge from a storm when he came to a peasant hut and was given a chair with several spindles to sit on. This legend has been passed down through the generations.
Because of how comfortable it was and how uncomplicated it was, he was so taken with it that he had his own furniture-maker replicate it. According to the Treasury of American Design and Antiques written by Clarence P. Hornung, this chance meeting is credited as being the impetus for the birth of Windsor design.
By the 1730s, the chair had already made its way over the Atlantic and was starting to show up in the British possessions in the Americas. It is quite probable that it was created for the first time in Philadelphia, where it quickly gained popularity before spreading to other areas, particularly New England.
Evolution of Windsor Chairs
The earliest Windsor chairs were crafted in the 18th century, although surviving specimens of chairs manufactured before 1790 are very uncommon. The name of these wooden chairs alone hints at the interesting past that lies behind them.
Beginning in the early part of the 18th century, stick-back chairs were manufactured in the Thames Valley region of England. The town of Windsor served as the distribution center from which the chairs were sent to London and other counties in the surrounding area.
An Ergonomic Advancement in the Form of Windsor Chairs
Windsor chairs were an ergonomic design advance in their day. This form of chair represented a developing awareness that chairs with contoured seats and curved backs fit the human body better than the previous style of chairs.
The shape of the seat on earlier chairs and other types of chairs was determined by the space that was generated by the framework of the armchair. These joints were at right angles to one another.
The Windsor chairs, on the other hand, had their construction focused on the seat, with the legs attached to the bottom of the seat and the back of the chair and arms joined to the top. The arms were also joined to the top of the back of the chair.
The astonishing level of comfort that a Windsor armchair and its unique seat provided contributed to their meteoric rise in popularity. During the 19th century, a number of manufacturers started producing chairs in this form.
The increased levels of automation that occurred during the Victorian period led to an enormous amount of these chairs being available for purchase. The bulk of excellent quality Windsor chairs dates from 1820 to 1870 when this was still a small cottage business. This was during the time period in which this was still a small cottage industry.
Windsor Chairs Identification
It is beneficial to be aware of how to recognize one of these time-honored gems whenever you come across it, whether you are out searching for antiques or just want to be able to identify vintage Windsor chairs that you may already possess.
There are a number of indicators that may help you determine whether or not you are in possession of an authentic antique. These indicators range from the types of traditional furniture woods that were used in Windsors to the styles that they came in.
Both Windsor side chair (those without arms) and Windsor armchair produced in the 19th-century feature turned legs linked by transverse and side stretchers. These chairs were often marked with the name of the manufacturer.
In contrast, Windsors from the 18th century, particularly those crafted in the Thames Valley area, often include cabriole legs, and the identities of their creators remain virtually unknown.
Although various patterns, such as the Prince of Wales feathers, are known, the vast majority of Windsors from the 19th century have a center-back splat that has been fretted out to create a wheel.
The back splats of Windsor chairs may take a number of different shapes, including comb-backs, bow-backs, gothic-backs, and low-backs. Windsor chairs without a back splat are also referred to as “stick-backs.”
Keep an eye out for the traditional types of wood that are used in Windsor chairs
The kind of wood that was used to construct a Windsor chair may provide information about its provenance and authenticity. The majority of English Windsor chairs are constructed of yew wood, ash wood, or elm wood, but other types of wood were sometimes used as well.
Yew solid wood Windsor’s were a prestige symbol due to the fact that the material was very unusual in comparison to the more prevalent ash. The fact that you had a set was a sign that you were wealthy.
Those who did not have the financial means to purchase yew wood were offered Windsors made of ash and elm instead.
Acquaint yourself with the different Windsor styles
Although there are no universally accepted classifications for the many designs of Windsor chairs, there is a general manner of classifying them based on the style of the back that goes as follows:
Stick back: A stick-back is a back that is formed like a hoop and has long spindles that run vertically down the inside of the back.
Splat back: A splat-back is a back that is fashioned like a hoop and has long spindles standing vertically on each side of a splat that is located in the middle of the back.
Comb-back: It is a kind of back in which long spindles of equal length are arranged vertically and then into a horizontal top piece to make a comb shape.
You’ll find that Windsor chairs may be found with or without arms, which is something else to keep in mind if you’re shopping for antique rocking chairs. Collectors and hobbyists alike will find these different types to be intriguing.
Chair with a Windsor Comb-back
Acquaint yourself with the variations Between the Windsors of Europe and the United States
The process of identifying an antique Windsor includes locating the factory where the chair was manufactured.
Although the fundamental structure and build are identical, there are several noteworthy variances between English and American Windsors. These differences include the following:
Back style: American Windsors almost never feature a “splat-back” style, which refers to a back that has a decorative splat in the middle.
The stretcher: It is the component that connects the legs, and might be one of many different types. The legs of American Windsors are joined together by a straightforward stretcher in the shape of an “H.”
The stretcher of an English Windsor made of yew wood was often shaped like a crinoline.
Angle: The angle at which the legs are joined to the seat is distinct between American and English Windsors. American Windsors have legs that point outward at a more acute angle than English Windsors do.
The wood used: The chairs were all made out of a distinctive kind of wood. Pine was often utilized for the seats of American Windsors, while hickory was used for the spindles, and maple was used for the turned arms and legs.
Examine the Marks and Labels on the Pieces of Furniture
There is a possibility that the very first Windsors are not marked in any way, but the majority of the factory-produced versions come with labels and furniture markings. Examine the bottom of the seat to see if there is any kind of marking there.
This may provide you with some information on the maker of the chair, as well as the possible time period during which it was manufactured.
Spot a Fake Vintage Windsor
While it may take years of expertise to be absolutely certain if you are looking at a replica or an antique Windsor chair, there are certain indicators that might assist. These clues are as follows:
- Color or hue
It’s possible that replica chairs won’t have the right shade of hue. They may seem too light, or they may look too dark because a dark stain was put on them. Both of these possibilities are possible.
They could seem to be too flawless. With a real antique chair, you expect to observe some natural variation and unevenness in color.
- Precise sharp edges
Patina, often known as worn from usage, distinguishes genuine antique chairs. The sharp edges of the wood will be rounded off. A replica chair has a clean and precise edge around the perimeter of the wood.
What Should I Expect to Get for My Windsor Chair?
At auctions, Windsor chairs, like many other forms of antique furniture, can sell for a significant sum of money. They fulfill every requirement: they are ancient, they have that “vintage” design, and each day, more and more of them are found out in the wild.
So, how much does one typically pay for a chair these days? Genuine Windsor chairs in satisfactory condition fetch a minimum price of $500 each. These samples illustrate how variable the pricing may be and how high they can go:
This Windsor chair with a black painted finish went for $625.
This elegant Windsor side chair in pink went for the price of $750.
$1,000 – $10,000
The asking price for this set of two white bow-back Windsor chairs was $4,375.
A total of $5,625 was collected from the sale of this collection of fan-backed Windsor chairs.
$10,000 – $20,000
The purchase price for this brace back black painted Windsor chair was $12,500.
There is an estimate that puts the price of this brown-painted fan-back Windsor chair at $18,000.
$20,000 – $30,000
The price that was asked for this green paint high comb back Windsor chair was $23,750.
A total of $62,500 was received for this set of six bow-back Windsor armchairs.
What Factors Influence Price?
In the event that you are still considering selling your chair, the following are some aspects that may have an effect on its value:
Condition & Reconstruction
Your Windsor chair’s value will increase according to the quality of its condition. It is usual and often inevitable for Windsor chairs to sustain some damage due to wear and tear because of their consistent usage. Nonetheless, this kind of damage is not uncommon.
Check to see if there are any nicks, chips, or warping in the wood of your chair. The tip of the chair’s bow and the seat are the sections that sustain damage the most often.
Some individuals choose to cover up the damage with paint, but you have to be cautious since too many repairs might take away from the antique look of the item.
The majority of early Windsor chairs, however, do not have any manufacturer markings. These chairs were crafted by local furniture craftsmen who may or may not have spent a significant amount of time marketing their work.
If your chair has some kind of symbol, trademark, or logo, this may greatly boost its worth since it makes it much simpler to date.
A straightforward initialization is the most typical form of a mark. For example, after much investigation, it was discovered that the letter ‘RR’ on this Windsor chair refers to a local craftsman named Richard Roberts of Norwich and that the chair was made in 1714.
This study article by Thomas Crispin contains additional material that may be of interest to those who are interested in learning more about the furniture producers of the 18th century.
There are many additional expenses associated with antique furniture that is not included in the price somewhere else. These are the following:
- Transporting them is a challenging and costly endeavor.
- Required to be transported using either trucks or containers.
- Must be kept safely in order to prevent damage from moisture.
In order to combat this issue and earn some savings, collectors may often attempt to sell individual items in their collections. If the purchaser cannot retrieve the furniture in person, the dealer will most likely deny the transaction.
The benefit of Windsor chairs is that they may be readily marketed as part of a collection. This benefit includes the ability to sell them as pairs of armchairs or as whole dining chair sets (six chairs or more).
When you sell many items, you are able to arrange cheaper storage and catch the attention of antique collectors who are looking to make significant investments in these specialized markets.
Antique Windsor Chair Value
Depending on the quality and condition, the price of an antique Windsor set may range anywhere from approximately $500 to far into the hundreds of dollars.
Currently, the price of a vintage Windsor chair may vary anywhere from $1,000 to $200,000, with tales of private transactions reaching over $500,000, with age being the primary influence in value.
Those who are searching for solitary armchairs would prefer to hunt for specimens from the early eighteenth Century, despite the fact that such chairs are highly uncommon and, as a result, pricey.
There are some excellent chairs with an ornate pointed Gothic arch that dates from about 1760 to 1780, but it would be easy to spend $21,625 to 36,042 or more for a superb example of either of these chairs.
Comparing an antique chair to others that have recently been purchased is a fantastic approach to determine how much it is worth. On eBay, for instance, a Windsor chair that belonged to a kid and was made in the 19th century sold for roughly $500. Elm and ash were used in its construction, and it was in pristine shape when we bought it.
Where to Shop For an Antique Windsor Chair?
Antique English Wheel Back Windsor Chair 1890s
These antique Windsor chairs could be a part of your private collection and any interior designer would vouch for them in addition to an antique dining table that suits the interior. These side chairs date back to the 18th century!
1900’s Windsor Arm Chairs
These sack back chairs belonging to 1900s are the English prototypes with the best arm supports. They provide the same comfort as high back chairs.
Antique Victorian Windsor style Chair
Having a pierced splat, high back, and original paint finish, this armchair is one of the first examples of side chairs that you would love to have!
Windsor High Chairs
This chair has a high back with bamboo style turnings to make it the best of the 19th century. It has a comfortable seat and arm rail to provide an ergonomic position.
Stick Back Windsor armchair
Vintage Philadelphia Fan-Back Windsor Chair
Primitive Windsor Bow Back Windsor Armchair
The bow back sack back Windsor armchair with a saddle seat is a perfect example of Windsor style. It has an original finish made of yew wood with a comfortable arm rail that might pique your interest.
Country House Elm & Ash Antique Windsor Chair
Antique Bow Chair 1870
How to Determine the Worth of an Ancient Windsor Chair and Sell It?
Online auction sites contain all you need to know, whether you want to purchase, sell, or are simply curious about the amount of money Windsor chairs are worth, so if any of those apply to you, check them out.
The following are some of our top picks:
If you have a high-end Windsor chair that has the potential to sell for thousands of dollars, then you should consider selling it at Sotheby’s. This auction house comes highly recommended. It provides accurate valuations for the market, takes care of all the intricacies involved in selling, and provides professional assessments.
eBay is one of the most efficient methods to check market prices and discover what items are currently available on the market since the website adds hundreds of new listings for antiques every single day.
Their Windsor armchair category is rather diverse, with a wide variety of designs and kinds of chairs, with costs ranging anywhere from one hundred dollars to more than ten thousand dollars. One can shop by category on eBay, making it a customer-friendly choice.
While Etsy does have a growing community of antique furniture sellers, the majority of the antique Windsor chairs that are offered for sale on the site are either reproductions or antiques that have been repaired.
It is a wonderful website to consider visiting if you are considering repairing your chair in any way. Etsy also allows to shop by category to make the search easier.
If you are considering purchasing antique Windsor chairs as an investment, you should think about getting some study and reference books, such as the following:
- Windsor Chairs: An Illustrated Celebration by Michael Harding-Hill
- The English Windsor Chair by Thomas Crispin & Alan Sutton
- A Windsor Handbook by Wallace Nutting
There is a good chance that the Windsor armchair may go down in history as one of the most coveted pieces of antique furniture ever. Not only has it influenced the design of contemporary furniture, but people are still purchasing, selling, and making Windsor chairs in the present day.
They are hard, long-lasting, and have a stunning appearance. Being made of ash, york, pine, and other woods, with Gothic tracery, these chairs are simply amazing.
Particularly in the modern world, when everyone from antique collectors to interior designers are attempting to obtain historic furniture, antique Windsor chairs demand a significant amount of attention all over the globe.
In addition, brand new chairs are found outdoors on a daily basis. However, there is no substitute for the genuine article, and antique Windsor chairs have a history of shattering a variety of auction records.