I saw this wainscot chair yesterday, for the first time in 10 years.
It’s privately owned, and was made in Hingham Massachusetts in the mid-seventeenth century. Oak with some inlaid bands. These might be walnut heartwood & sapwood. I though some of the “dark” pieces were cedar. I don’t think there was any microanalysis done, but I am going to check. The placement of the inlay is really absurd, it is trenched into the stiles and some rails right at the edge where a mortise is cut, and the corresponding tenon shoulder meets the mortised member. Some Yorkshire wainscot chairs have bands of inlay, but usually they are set in from the edge of the stock. Like a sane person did it…
I am planning to make a copy of this chair, much like I did for another Hingham chair for the Brooklyn Museum last year. The V-tool work is really quite vigorous; it’s about the deepest-cut stuff I can remember. While I was shooting some photos of it, I noticed the crest rail’s carved pattern. Symmetry is suggested, but not really attained. I always emphasize this idea to people when they see my carving and ask how I get it “perfect” and by that they mean symmetrical. Upon closer examination most folks can see the deviation from right to left, top to bottom, whatever the situation might be. But you have to go looking for it in most cases. Our brains like repeating patterns, and will scan for repeats while tolerating some discrepancies.
And that is some of what I look for in period carvings…if they aren’t there, then I get suspicious.