The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) announced on Wednesday the acquisition of a rare Windsor chair of Nantucket origin, circa 1780–1790, thanks to a gift from the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association.
The Windsor chair originated in Windsor, England, around 1710 and made its way to the American colonies by the 1730s. It is characterized as being crafted from wooden material with back and sides that consist of multiple spindles that are attached to a sculpted seat with straight legs that point outwards and a slight recline to its back.
The Nantucket Windsor chair form evolved from familiar Philadelphia Windsor chair designs, examples of which were commonly imported to the island throughout the second half of the eighteenth century. Chairs made by two Nantucket chairmakers, Frederick Slade and Charles Chase (1731–1815), are seen as the most impressive and representative specimens of the type.
The chair acquired by the NHA is a beautiful scaled-down version of a classic Nantucket braced fan-back armchair, made from hard and soft woods and potentially with the original dark green paint still intact. Noted as a masterpiece by antique experts, the craftsmanship displayed by its elegant crest rail scrolls and carved knuckles and the overall structural grace it emulates can likely be attributed to Frederick Slade with further research.
“We are grateful for the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association and their continued support toward the growth and care of our collections," said Niles Parker, the NHA's Gosnell Executive Director. "We are thrilled to add this one-of-a-kind piece. Not only is this remarkable Windsor chair notable for its size and design for a child, as well as its excellent condition, but its Nantucket origins make it an artifact that, without a doubt, belongs in our collection for visitors to study and enjoy for years to come."
The chair will go on view this spring in the Whaling Museum. To learn more and explore the NHA’s collection, please visit www.NHA.org.