Q&A on Collecting
Mid 19th-century folding chair
offered convenience, portability
Q: This is a photo of an antique folding chair that I refinished for a friend of mine. It came out quite well. When opened out, it is 28 inches tall and about 16 inches wide. I think the wood is walnut, but I'm not sure. The refinisher used a golden oak stain. I think the chair was made between 1880 and 1890. Am I right? I hope you can help me find out its age and value.
A: Victorian folding chairs made their debut around 1860, and in 1873, there were patents issued to several styles. These chairs were convenient and portable. They were usually made of walnut or other hardwoods, and some makers enhanced them with a painted grained wood finish. The simple and unadorned curved top rail suggests you have an early chair. By the 1870s, they were decorated with spindles and finials. As a rule, the seat was made of carpet, and they were known as carpet chairs. Similar folding chairs were used by the military and called campaign or camp chairs. Their style was less pleasing, but functional. Based on your photo, the wood looks lighter than walnut and may be maple. Your chair was made around 1865 to 1870 and would probably be worth $225 to $325.