Antique Wing Back Chairs
An antique wing back chair is a comfortable chair with side pieces, known as wings or ears, mounted to the sides of the back that typically stretch down to the arm rest.
Brief history & description
Also known as easy chairs or club chairs, wing back chairs have been used since the seventeenth century in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Historically, wing back chairs were positioned near to a fireplace and the wings and enclosed head-space were designed to provide the sitter with comfortable protection from flying embers and from drafts.
There are two standard wing back chair styles; the scroll wing and the flat wing. The shape, length, vertical position and depth of the wings tend to vary from chair to chair.
Guide to collectors
Antique wing back chairs come in a variety of shapes, sizes and can be upholstered in either fabric or leather.
While restoration of antique wing back chairs is recommended if there is noticeable damage, collectors are urged to seek out professional advice as poor quality restoration will diminish an item’s value.
There are a number of online antique furniture companies and auction houses that frequently sell antique wing back chairs. Prices at Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Christie’s generally range from $500 to $2,000, but more distinguished examples can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
The most valuable examples of antique wing back chairs were designed by noted British and American furniture designers, such as Giles Grendey, Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite.
In October 2004, at Sotheby’s in New York, a George I walnut needlework-covered wing back chair, circa 1720, realised a price of $60,000.
In October 2004, a George II walnut wing-back armchair, circa 1750, was sold through Sotheby’s, New York, for a realised price of $57,000.
In November 2009, a George II carved mahogany wing back armchair, designed in the manner of Giles Grendey, realised a price of £9,000 through Bonhams, New Bond Street.
In May 2009, at Christie’s in London, a George IV mahogany wing back armchair was sold for £5,000.