Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This old chair..........


I was watching an old PBS special about the Civil War in the United States.  They covered the shooting of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth at the theater, showing old photos and the present day historic site.  Also they described what happened after the President was shot, saying that they took him across the street from the theater and placed him in a randomly chosen boarding house room on the first floor.  They laid him out on the bed diagonally because he was too tall for the small bed. There he lay being attended to by doctors who had none of today's technology to really give him any hope of survival.


They didn't ask permission of the man who had rented the room and since he was gone at the time,  I am sure he was surprised to find the government officials had taken over his room when he returned to the room. From my memory of things Abraham Lincoln didn't die from his wounds until a day later.

The thing that jumped out at me was the chair that was sitting in the boarding house on the right side of the bed. It had a caned seat.  I own a chair like that one in the photo, at least I thought so.


It is the same style of chair.  This chair did have a cane seat in it originally and it is the same shape.  I looked at other views of the chair in other pictures of the bedroom and it is from the same family of chairs but it is not the exact same kind of chair.


My chair has been stained mahogany and I am sure it was originally a light or medium brown wood.  From other views of the chair the side supports and bracing are all the exact same. The three spindles are the same in the back and the carved arches are the same.




I bought my chair at an auction in Sidney, Iowa. The woman who had passed away had an antique business in Omaha and a lot of things she kept at her house were antique.  I doubt this was a family piece but I suppose it could have been. The cross stitch piece really does look great on this chair even though it is covering up the cane seat opening.

I paid six dollars for it which was not a high price at the time in 1974. I assume that the crowd really were looking for more modern furniture.  I also bought some Wedgewood pieces at that sale for three or four dollars a piece.  The auctioneer was not much with selling all the small items so he let me bid the per item bid and then said I could take as many as I wanted.  There was an ashtray that I didn't take at the time but someone else certain grabbed it. The chair seemed like a wonderful item and would make a great desk chair to an antique desk.



Just for fun I am showing you an artist rendition of what he thought it might have looked like while Mr. Lincoln lay dying.  The artist has taken artistic license on the looks of the chair in the illustration.  I assume the artist would not think that people could someday get on the internet and view that actual chair in 1865. As small as the room was I really doubt that there could have been that many people in the room.

I probably will continue my research about the whole history of the company that made the chair.  I have found numerous sites that show the room which has been kept as a museum.  It was a very small room and the shooting or our president was a sad part of our history that will always be remembered.

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9 comments:

Kristin said...

Very interesting and a wonderful chair.

Karen S. said...

You never know when you might have something from a famous person...There is a house on White Bear Lake that a family donated for showing, (once the last family member died) it was built in 1879 and is like a chalet house, built in what they call stick style, and inside is a chair that once belonged to good old Abe....so you just never know sometimes. This was really interesting, thanks for sharing!

Crystal Mary said...

Hi Larry, I didn't know that about Abraham Lincoln so your story was new to me. I imagine the man who used the room did get a surprise to find the president placed on his bed. Its also surprising the president was so tall as not many people were in those times. The chair is beautiful and the shape and the way it is moulded realy amazing, and would have taken a lot to make by hand. We had a lovely chair like that when I was growing up. Now I am wondering whatever happened to it? I will have to ask my mother.

Little Nell said...

That’s a lovely chair and the research you have done is really interesting.

Liz Stratton said...

Beautiful chair. It is interesting how a photograph can inspire us to dig deeper and learn more.

Wendy said...

Your study of chairs has produced a fine and interesting post. I enjoyed the history lesson.

Alan Burnett said...

A fabulous slice of history Larry, brought to life by some great old images - and some fine words.

imagespast said...

What a handsome chair and interesting research. It's fun to be inspired to start digging. Jo

Christine H. said...

I think you could write a book about the history of the world through chairs. How many important scenes included historical chairs? Probably lots.