An American Federal Mahogany Inlaid Shield Back Chair, Salem, circa 1790-1805


An American Federal mahogany “shield-back” side Chair, Massachusetts, probably the work of Stephen Badlam, Dorchester, with a bowfront, circa 1800.

The chair is in excellent condition and despite its very delicate and refined form, contains no breaks or repairs of note. American seating furniture with the inclusion of geometric or floral inlays is very rare.

The finish is old and glows with a golden brown color. The back of the chair’s splat features an inlaid satinwood quarter fan. The front legs are molded and are tipped with a triangular point for upholstery purposes. The secondary wood of the seat frame appears to be chestnut and there is evidence of the original nail tacking pattern. The chair has no corner blocks whatsoever, which is not uncommon for Massachusetts cabinetshop practices, but it is otherwise extremely well-constructed. The back seat rail is veneered in mahogany. The stretcher arrangement is original. American, circa 1790-1805.

NOTES AND REFERENCES: This chair’s form is derived from plate 5 in George Hepplewhite’s “The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide” (third edition, 1794). A virtually identical chair, which notably, has extensive carvings to the crest rail, is in the collection of Winterthur, and is shown and discussed in “American Furniture, The Federal Period“, by Charles F. Montgomery, 1966, page 89-90, figure 35.

REFERENCE: American Antiques from the Collection of Israel Sack, Volume II, page 352, number 886.

Adam A. Weschler & Sons Auction, December 8th, 1979, “A pair of Hepplewhite Inlaid Mahogany Side Chairs, inscribed …’Made in Dorchester (Mass.) by Badlam, 1795…”


SKU: AN 104635992 Categories: ,

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