In the late 1980s I restored four elegant mid-eighteenth-century Irish ‘red’ walnut side chairs with stuffover seats. If I did take any photos of them, I can’t locate them now; however, I did take the time to make patterns of the chairs out of some heavy card.
The chairs are fairly familiar; their elements are found in numerous Irish mahogany and walnut chairs of the period. The simple undercarriages are typical of many Irish and English side- and dining chairs viz. square, chamfered legs with H-stretchers, though Irish chairs often lack a rear stretcher (figs. 1,2,6,7 & 8) and more often than not, have the iconic shaped brackets at the juncture of the front legs and seat rails (figures 1, 2 & 3).
Fig. 1. George II Irish mahogany side chair, circa 1760. (Irish Furniture)
Fig. 2. One of a set of six George II Irish mahogany dining chairs, circa 1760. (Johnston Antiques)
Fig. 3. George II Irish mahogany elbow chair, circa 1760. (Johnston Antiques)
Though these chairs are frequently of fairly plain design, their crest rail ends are often subtly scrolled (figures 1 & 4) or eared – either incorporated or disjointed (figures 5, 6, 7 & 8).
Fig. 4. Irish scrolled crest rail, circa 1755. (Solomon Bly)
Fig. 5. George II Irish mahogany side chair, circa 1755.
Fig. 6. George II Irish elbow chair, circa 1750. (Mackinnon Fine Art)
Fig. 7. George II Irish elbow chair, circa 1750. (Irish Furniture)
Fig. 8. George II Irish mahogany elbow chair, circa 1760. (Johnston Antiques)
The undercarriages of the chairs I will be making are virtually the same as that in figure 1, whilst the rear stiles, splats and crest rails bear close similarities to the pair of elbow chairs in figures 6 and 7.
 GLIN, The Knight of, and PEILL, J. (2007) Irish Furniture. Yale University Press, p.209, fig. 17.
Hello Jack, I’m glad you are feeling better…enough to get back to work on some projects in your Proposed Furniture Program. This sounds like an interesting new project…..Looking forward to following it.
Likewise. These builds are among my favourite things on the web.
Don’t hold your breath; this is going to be a slow one.
What will you be using for upholstery type? Webbing or solid wood base? Springs, horsehair, foam rubber or modern foam? Side question – what is the earliest chair or settee you have seen that uses original springs?
These mid-eighteenth-century chairs will be upholstered in the correct fashion and materials of the era, viz. linen webbing nailed over the seat rails, then tightly woven hessian followed by horsehair, cotton wadding within a stitched edge and covered in calico or fine linen. The outer nailed cover will be chintz/damask/plain linen/palampore (I haven’t decided yet).
There will be no cover attached to the underside of the rails i.e. when upturned, the webbing/hessian will be visible.
Sprung seats, as we know them now, appeared in the late 1790s, but with mass production of coil springs, became widespread from the early 1830s.
Hello Jack, thanks for the useful information.
I notice in images 06 and 07, one of the arms has a wide “mesa” near the joint, and the end comes to a point. Can you explain these please?
There’s not much to explain here I’m afraid. The arms are fairly typical of the era and genre of chair. Despite their convolutions, I can report that they are quite comfortable in use.
The large areas that I think you perceive as flat, are in fact, heavily canted inwards to accommodate the forearms of the sitter.