Antique Ladder Back Chairs
A ladder back chair is a chair whose back-support resembles the rungs of a ladder.
A ladder back chair is characterised by wooden horizontal slats that stretch across the back of the chair. The slats vary in size and number from chair to chair but all are joined to the back posts with a tenon and mortise joint.History & Description
While the design of the ladder back chair originates from the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, the chair was popularised during the eighteenth and nineteenth century in Britain and was constructed from mahogany, oak and ash.
Guide to collectors
Antique ladder back chairs typically sell between £300 and £2,000 at Christie’s; however, more distinguished examples can cost thousands and thousands of pounds. Bonhams also regularly sells antique ladder back chairs and are considerably less expensive. Examples can be purchased for as little as £50.
The most expensive antique ladder back chairs are generally made from mahogany. Essentially, the closer an antique ladder back chair is to its original condition, the more desirable and valuable it is to collectors. A chair’s value will diminish if it has been repainted or if its legs, seats or slats have been replaced.
Additionally, prospective buyers or existing owners of antique ladder back chairs can help retain a chair’s value by ensuring that any essential repairs are carried out by a professional restorer.
In March 2003 at Bonhams in Edinburgh, a set of ten mahogany ladder back dining chairs realised a price of £4,348.
In December 2007, an assembled set of English mixed wood ladder back chairs, made in the nineteenth century, realised a price of $2,074 through Bonhams, San Francisco.
In April 2007 at Christie’s in London, a matched set of fifteen oak and ash ladder chairs, made possibly in Wales in the eighteenth century, was sold for £7,200.
In September 2004, a set of ten George III mahogany ladder back dining chairs, attributed to Scotland in the late-eighteenth century, was sold through Christie’s, London, for £14,340.
In October 1996, a stained oak ladder back chair, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow, circa 1903, realised a price of £23,000 through Christie’s, London.
(All values based on auction results from Liveauctioneers.com)