Chipstone
Menu

Leroy Graves and F. Carey Howlett
Leather Bottoms, Satin Haircloth, and Spanish Beard: Conserving Virginia Upholstered Seating Furniture

American Furniture 1997

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Easy chair, England or eastern Virginia, ca. 1745. Walnut with beech; original upholstery with later additions. H. 45 3/4", W. 30 1/4", D. 30 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Matthew Pratt, Mary Jemima Balfour, Hampton,Virginia, 1773. Oil on canvas. 49" x 39 1/2". (Courtesy, Virginia Historical Society.)

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Illustration of a standard eighteenth-century approach to over-the-rail upholstery: (a) front seat rail, (b) straw or grass roll, (c) linen casing for roll, (d) top linen, (e) show textile, (f) removable shoe molding, (g) rear seat rail, (h) horse hair stuffing, (i) foundation linen, (j) webbing strips. (Drawing, Leroy Graves; artwork, Wynne Patterson.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Easy chair attributed to the Anthony Hay shop, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1750–1770. Mahogany with ash, tulip poplar, and yellow pine. H. 44 1/8", D. 28 1/2", W. 31 3/4". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Detail of a rasp-shaped wing on the easy chair illustrated in fig. 4, showing clusters of nail holes related to the original webbing on the lower edge of the back and wing.

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Side chair, Fredericksburg, Virginia, ca. 1815. Mahogany with ash and yellow pine.
    H. 36 1/2", W. 21 1/4", D. 18". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Detail of an upholstery peak on the side chair illustrated in fig. 6. (Photo, L. Graves and F. C. Howlett.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Armchair, probably Norfolk, Virginia, ca. 1790. Mahogany with ash. H. 38 3/4", W. 20 3/4", D. 17 3/4". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Detail of shadow marks indicating early or original upholstery profiles on the chair illustrated in fig. 8.

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Easy chair, England, 1750–1760. Mahogany with beech and deal; remnants of original upholstery. H. 47", W. 32 3/4", D. 25 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Detail of an original edge roll on the wing of the easy chair illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figur 12
    Figur 12

    Armchair attributed to Edmund Dickinson, Williamsburg, Virginia, ca. 1775. Cherry; oak slipseat. H. 38 1/4", W. 26 1/2", D. 18 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Detail of the slipseat from the armchair illustrated in fig. 12. (Photo, F. C. Howlett.) The seat has its original curled hair and grass stuffing.

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail of a leather fragment trapped beneath a forged nail on the seat frame of the chair illustrated in fig. 12. (Photo, L. Graves.)

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Side chair, New England, 1790–1800. Mahogany with cherry and yellow pine; original upholstery foundation with remnants of haircloth cover. H. 40 3/8", W. 20 3/4", D. 18 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Detail of textile imprints on the seat rail of the chair illustrated in fig. 15.

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Detail of modern brass nails used to point out the original nail pattern on the chair illustrated in fig. 8.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Masonic master’s chair signed by Benjamin Bucktrout, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1769–1775. Mahogany with walnut; original black-grained leather upholstery with brass nail trim. H. 65 1/2", W. 31 1/4", D. 29 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Settee attributed to the shop of Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1771–1776. Cherry with tulip poplar and white oak. H. 36 1/2", W. 73", D. 21 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Smoking chairs, Southampton County, Virginia, ca. 1775. Walnut with yellow pine. H. 32 1/4", W. 2 3/4", D. 25". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    The Grymes Children attributed to John Hesselius, Brandon, Middlesex County, Virginia, ca. 1750. Oil on canvas. 56" x 66 1/4". (Courtesy, Virginia Historical Society.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Easy chair, piedmont region of Virginia, ca. 1790. Black walnut with yellow pine; original leather upholstery. H. 44 1/4", W. 28 1/2", D. 22 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Armchair, probably Albemarle County, Virginia, ca. 1800. Cherry; original black leather upholstery. H. 34 7/8", W. 23 1/4", D. 19 1/4". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Detail of the black-grained leather and a stitched seam on the chair illustrated in fig. 18.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Preconservation view of the bottom of the chair illustrated in fig. 18. (Photo, L. Graves.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Preconservation detail of the chair illustrated in fig. 18, showing the seat with upholstery peaks visible beneath leather.

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    X-radiograph of an armrest on the chair illustrated in fig. 18, showing undisturbed original nails. (Courtesy, Robert Berry, Fabrication Division, Nondestructive Evaluation Section, NASA—Langley Research Center.)

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    X-radiograph taken above the front seat rail of the chair illustrated in fig. 18, showing one strip of webbing, webbing nails, and the front edge roll. (Courtesy, Robert Berry, Fabrication Division, Nondestructive Evaluation Section, NASA—Langley Research Center.)

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Auxiliary support for the seat of the chair illustrated in fig. 18: (a) 1/4" acrylic support plate beneath the original upholstery, (b) ventilation holes in acrylic support plate, (c) bolt and T-nut, (d) diagonal brace, (e) 4-ply laminated acid-free ragboard. (Drawing, L. Graves; artwork, Wynne Patterson.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Detail of the corner bracket associated with the auxiliary support for the chair illustrated in fig. 18: (a) 1/4" acrylic support plate beneath the original upholstery, (b) ventilation hole in acrylic support plate, (c) bolt and T-nut, (d) 24-gauge copper Z-shaped bracket, (e) copper rivet, (f) diagonal brace, (g) triangular-shaped 1/8" acrylic support, (h) self-adhesive moleskin, (i) silk Crepeline fabric, (j) 4-ply laminated acid-free ragboard. (Drawing, L. Graves; artwork, Wynne Patterson.)

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Detail of the underside of the chair illustrated in fig. 18, showing the new auxiliary support. (Photo, L. Graves.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Easy chair, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1820. Walnut and maple with white pine, yellow pine, and tulip poplar; original upholstery. H. 45 3/4", W. 30 1/4", D. 30 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Design for plates used to secure and realign the damaged wing joint of the chair illustrated in fig. 32. (Drawing, L. Graves; artwork, Wynne Patterson.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Preconservation detail of exposed Spanish moss stuffing from the chair illustrated in fig. 32. (Photo, L. Graves.)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Postconservation view of the easy chair illustrated in fig. 32, showing the stabilized original upholstery.

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Easy chair, Boston, Massachusetts, 1759. Walnut with white pine and maple; roller-printed chintz slipcover, ca. 1840. Clement Vincent or George Bright, chairmaker. Samuel Grant, upholsterer. H. 46 1/8", W. 33 7/8", D. 21 3/4". (Courtesy, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. A gift of the heirs of Elizabeth Cheever Wheeler. Photograph by David Bohl.)

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Postconservation view of the easy chair illustrated in fig. 32, showing the new slipcover modeled after the example illustrated in fig. 36. (Photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Side chair, probably Norfolk, Virginia, 1790–1810. Walnut and holly inlay with yellow pine. H. 34 1/2", W. 18 3/8", D. 17 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Detail showing evidence of the original brass nail trim on the front seat rail of the chair illustrated in fig. 38. (Photo, L. Graves and F. C. Howlett.)

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Slipseat frame, Virginia or Britain, ca. 1755. Beech; remnants of original linen and striped, black haircloth. (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Sofa labeled by Chester Sully, Norfolk, Virginia, 1811. Mahogany with yellow pine, tulip poplar, and ash. H. 37 7/8", W. 72 5/8", D. 23". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Components of the nonintrusive upholstery system devised for the side chair illustrated in fig. 38: (a) front seat rail, (b) 24-gauge copper face plate, (c) black cotton fabric, (d) haircloth show textile, (e) brass nails, (f) removable shoe molding, (g) rear seat rail, (h) polyester batting, (i) Ethafoam, (j) 32-gauge copper foundation. (Drawing, L. Graves; artwork, Wynne Patterson.)

  • Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Postconservation view of the side chair illustrated in fig. 38.

  • Figure 44
    Figure 44

    Sofa, Winchester, Virginia, 1790–1800. Black walnut and maple inlay with yellow pine and tulip poplar. H. 37", W. 89", D. 27 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 45
    Figure 45

    Sofa, Winchester, Virginia, 1790–1800. Black walnut and maple inlay with yellow pine and tulip poplar. H. 37", W. 86 1/2", D. 27 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 46
    Figure 46

    Detail of an inlaid leg on the sofa illustrated in fig. 44.

  • Figure 47
    Figure 47

    Detail of the arm assembly and seat rails of the sofa illustrated in fig. 44.

  • Figure 48
    Figure 48

    Detail of the sofa illustrated in fig. 45, with modern nails pointing out original brass nail locations.

  • Figure 49
    Figure 49

    Detail of the sofa illustrated in fig. 44, with new upholstery and trim applied according to evidence found on the frame. (Photo, L. Graves and F. C. Howlett.)

  • Figure 50
    Figure 50

    Postconservation view of the sofa illustrated in fig. 44, with cushions fabricated according to a dimensional study of the frame. (Photo, Hans Lorenz.)