June 4, 2007

Baltimore Chairs

I was reading the NY Times' Thursday House & Garden section the other week and tore out a photo to blog about... The title of the piece is "Early 19th Century Baltimore Given Breezy Update". Unless you know that the Baltimore that the article is referring to is a Baltimore Chair, you might be forgiven for wondering what the writer was talking about.

Baltimore has always been a port city, and during the 1700's a number of cabinetmakers were active here, due to the availability of exotic woods that came into the port. The Baltimore Chair generally had a painted back, sometimes in gilt, and cane seats. It's because of the cane seats and the wooden slat backs that these chairs are hard to come by. Many that do survive are lacking the original paint. The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Maryland Historical Society have some great selections in their Maryland Furniture collections.

Charles Fradin, a furniture designer in LA, about whom the NY Time article was written, has designed the Baltimore Collection, with pieces ranging from a small chair to a large book case. The Jasper Chair, above, is listed for $3,500 and is one of eight pieces in the collection. Unfortunately, Mr. Fradin doesn't have a website, and I only have a crappy scan of his lovely chair.
The top two images are from Chipstone, a house museum in Wisconsin, which has some great information and beautiful photos. The type is tiny though.