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Photo: Rhode Island Furniture Archive; courtesy Preservation Society of Newport County, R.I., PSNC.1757.1–.2
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Side chairs, pair

Object number



Maker Unknown


39 × 16 1/2 × 20 in. (99.06 × 41.91 × 50.8 cm)



Current location

Preservation Society of Newport County


Made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Walnut (primary); maple (crest of one chair [probably replaced])




“II[?],” incised on rabbet of front seat rail of one chair; “V,” incised on rabbet of front seat rail other chair


Descended in the Hunter Family, Newport, Rhode Island; Mr. Philip Gordon Birckhead (1875–1938); by descent to Mrs. Philip G. Birckhead (née Elizabeth Delafield); sold to Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, 1957

Associated names

Hunter family
Mrs. Philip G. Birckhead
Philip G. Birckhead


Each crest rail is flat in front, with rounded edges in back, and has arched shoulders and an incurvate center. The similarly faced upper stiles are tenoned and wood-pinned to its ends; each tenon is visible on both sides of the crest rail. The backs of the leg/stiles are alternately chamfered, then square at the seat rail, then chamfered to just above the side stretchers, then square and slightly rearward-raking below. Tenoned into the underside of the splat and into the top of the molded shoe (which overhangs the rear seat frame and is fixed to the rear rail with wood-filled fasteners) is a single-piece vasiform splat of serpentine profile with a chamfered outside edge. The rear seat rail is tenoned and double-wood-pinned to the leg/stiles. (Some joints have extra, probably later pins). The side seat rails are tenoned and wood-pinned to the leg/stiles and to the front legs; the number of pins varies according to the condition of the two chairs. The block at the top of each front leg has a slightly rounded outside corner; the scallop-skirted front rail is tenoned to them with two wood pins at each joint. The rear stretcher, doweled into the rear legs, has a double ring turning at the head of its slightly conical ends. On one chair the medial stretcher is turned in a similar manner. On the other, the extra ring turning is missing. The side stretchers include a prominent ring turning a certain distance away from the rear blocked portions, and are tenoned and wood-pinned to the rear and front legs. The front tenons are oversized and meet the front legs at their flattened ?calves.? The pins are visible on both sides of the front legs. The cabriole legs end in full-disc pad feet. Some knee brackets are replaced. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, June 6, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

See also


Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 261n3.