February is truly upon us. The weather has been harsh, and we are white-washed with mini mountains of snow, glittering icicles and icy cold. As the snowflakes swirl about outside, on yet another Currier and Ives-looking day, inside we may be battling those evasive drafts around our windows and doors.
Though homes today are built much better and snugger than years past, one of the main jobs they do is to keep us warm, just as homes did in Old England and Colonial America. Back then drafts were a constant problem. So the Wing Chair was born out of necessity. The ever popular Wing Chair was made to keep out those pesky drafts. It worked well in 17th century England and continues to today.
The Wing Chair was sometimes referred to in our past as a grandfather chair, as the elderly male favored it, or the forty-wink chair (I like that name). And sometimes it was called the easy chair, which has now become another name for our club chair.
Pull a Wing Chair up to the warmth of a fire and the wings, sometimes called earpieces, can be from small to exaggerated in size. These will shelter the person sitting in the chair and help to block any drafts. You could also hide behind these wings and take a nap without your head falling or eaves-drop on another’s conversation.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries many Wing Chairs were made here in America on our East Coast from Boston, Massachusetts, Newport to New York and south. Most chairs were made in the Philadelphia and Charleston, SC areas.
If you happen to be a Wing Chair aficionado or historian you can time date chairs by their styles: Queen Anne, Charleston Chippendale, Massachusetts Chippendale, Philadelphia Chippendale, George III, etc. They’ll be different in leg style, foot (pad foot, ball & claw), stretchers, wings, backs (cantered, barrel-back), arms as well as seats.
Back then you were lucky to own a beautifully crafted Wing Chair, it was a status symbol. Today these chairs are still being made here in the USA and will never go out of style. They have again morphed in size, in styles, in body fabrics and comfort as well, but are still a wonderful addition to any room. A beautiful chair has always been a symbol of hospitality! Come in and “Please be seated” in one of our 2015 Charlton Furniture Wing Chairs.
* Thanks to my many notes from History of Furniture class.