Antique Captain’s chairs
Antique Captain’s chairs are chairs with a low curved vertical support back rest and horizontal arm rests, with vertical spindles.
Background and Description
The traditional Captain’s chair is often associated with sea-themed furniture, as a chair like one used by a sea Captain. This association stems from style of woodworking rather than actual function. The Captain connection may have been established due to their presence in works of art picturing famous sea captains and admirals who favoured this design.
Captain’s chairs are defined by their low, curved backs, vertical spindles, and essentially, the presence of horizontal arm rests. Often the arm and arm rests are at the same height.
The chairs are usually varnished wood. Newer examples are often upholstered in leather. They are often used with desks or in dining rooms, or as sets of chairs in a pub or restaurant. Some dining room sets come with a captain’s chair plus several other chairs without arm rests. Often Captain’s chairs have been given wheels to form a desk swivel chair.
The Captain’s chair design has been in use for centuries, and can vary enormously from one maker to another.
Collecting antique Captain’s chairs
There is no clear definition of what a Captain’s chair in fact is, aside from a few key characteristics. Therefore makers and manufacturers can refer to a wide variety of styles as ‘a Captain’s chair’. Collectors will generally choose to specify on one design, one maker, or one era.
Antique Captain’s chairs would refer to any made prior to 100 years ago. 19th century examples are commonly collected antique Captain’s chairs.
Modern replicas, terming themselves as ‘antique style’, or ‘regency style’ are sold for several hundred pounds.
They are sometimes sold in sets of several chairs. Sometimes a single chair is sold along with a desk. This is often when these items fetch the highest prices.
The value of a Captain’s chair depends on age, quality, rarity, the popularity of the maker, and materials. They can sell for less than 100 pounds or dollars, up to thousands.
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