Ladderback Chair (17th Century)

The Ladderback chair was one of the most popular chairs of the 17th- 18th century. He achieved such success by simplicity of construction, clear design and affordable price. Today these chairs are coveted items for collectors.

A ladderback chair, also known as a slat-back chair, is named for the horizontal slats across the back of the chair

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What is Ladderback shair?

Ladderback chair, also known as slatback chair or . It got its name from the horizontal slats on the back of the chair that look like the rungs of a ladder. Between straight back uprights, there are usually two to six slats that were perpendicular to each other and were usually turned or rounded on a lathe. They are connected by a groove and a tenon. The classic version features a high back and a wicker seat.


Child’s ladderback chair, ca. 1800, retaining an old blue/green surface.

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About it’s history.

Ladderback chair have been found in homes throughout Europe since the Middle Ages. By the 17th century, this type of chair had gained immense popularity in England. As a rule, ladderback chairs were made from the common sycamore or maple. By the middle of the 17th century, luxury furniture manufacturers also took notice of this chair and began to make it from walnut and add exquisite decorations and engravings.

A Pennsylvania Chair. 18th-Century

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Ladderback chair became a staple in homes throughout colonial America. Its popularity skyrocketed after the Protestant Reformation, as the chairs were of a simple style that was prized by early Protestants. It was quick and easy to do. It served as a dining chair, sitting chair and bench. In the second half of the 19th century, popularity of simple ladderback chair declined due to the emergence of the Victorian style.

In 1908, the Metropolitan depository of Art nonheritable a ladderback chair for its assortment, that was thought of a peasant chair and dates from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Antique Ladderback Armchair, Four Arched Splats, Ball & Ring Finials Probably Portsmouth, New Hampshire or Vicinity, about 1800

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Who were the Shakers.

The Shakers are the United Society of Believers in the Second Coming of Christ. They are most famous for their furniture, especially chairs. In addition to their most famous ladderback chair, they also created many other models, including the Windsor style chair and the revolver swivel chair. The largest and most influential community of Shakers was established at New Lebanon, New York in 1787. This community remained active until 1947, according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which holds an impressive collection of Shaker furniture and home furnishings.

Shaker furniture and accessories.

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Extraneous ornamentation and elements imparting comfort were considered inappropriate due to the strict religious beliefs of the Shakers. According to the Antiques Encyclopedia by Hidde Halbertsma, this type of furniture “characteristically has strongly geometric lines with plain surfaces and functionality”. The talent of the Shakers was exemplified by simplifying and refining. They removed “all artifice and adornment” to design furniture that served basic needs quite well.

Production.

It could withstand the rough handling of that era when there were many wars and migrations. It was designed in a way that utilized the tools, materials and knowledge that existed at the time. Whereas timber was plentiful, woodworking machinery was limited or nonexistent. It was probably hard work at the time to produce a single ladder back chair, but the people of that time were very patient. Each rung of the ladder would, painstakingly, be made to perfection, by hand. The mortise and tenon joints would then be meticulously made and assembled. They were made of different kinds of hard woods and that is why many have survived till today.

Shaker ladder back chairs on pegboard.

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Ladderback chairs were simple in construction. They were not made to stand out from the rest of the furniture. They had many practical uses ranging from; sitting on, stepping on, to using as a rig to hang newly made candles. Due to the limited variety of furniture at the time, these chairs were quite handy to have around the house. They occupied little space owing to the small seat area they had. Also, thanks to the ladder like back, they were easy to carry around by simply tucking the back under the arm and clasping one of the lower rungs.

A fifth generation Appalachian woodworker and American artist fashions handmade chairs without the use of glue or nails.

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Ladderback chairs used such a little amount of materials that, so many could be made from only a little wood. A popular version of a ladder back chair was the rocking chair. This was widely used and a big number of ladder backs were rocking chairs. Almost any movie set at that time would have a ladder back rocking chair on the set. They had a nostalgic effect on the older folk, and with good cause. Even in all their simplicity, Ladderback chairs are rather good looking. It is for this reason that they have been around for ages and yet, they never lost their appeal. They are still being built in workshops across the world.

Image sources:

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/ladder-back-chairs-furniture-or-piece-of-history

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladderback_chair

https://www.thespruce.com/shaker-chairs-furniture-style-148405

https://antiques.lovetoknow.com/18th_Century_Ladderback

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