A Miscellany of Information
I acquired a Morris style chair in 1996, and posted a Web page about it the next year. Since then I've received dozens of messages from others who have old non-Mission-style Morris chairs. I enjoy this correspondence. People's stories often involve inheriting the chair, and wondering about its history. I especially like seeing photos of the chairs, because they are often variations on the design of my own. The woodwork of every one has been unlike that of any other.
Almost every writer has asked me what I think his chair is worth. I don't know. I have absolutely no knowledge of the market in old Morris chairs. I only know that I treasure mine!
Lary Shaffer of Scarborough Maine makes and sells new Morris-style chairs, and collects information about old Morris-style chairs. As of June of 2010 he had photos of over 600 chairs in his archive. He enjoys helping people identify the makers of their chairs. This can lead to learning more about a chair's original owner. Consider consulting Lary about your chair. He has put a little guide to a few of them on his website. Take a bunch of photos of your chair, including good shots of any labels you find, and send them to Lary with specific questions about your chair.
The following chairs all belong to people who would love to know more about their chairs. None was made in the Mission style, like the chairs made popular by the designer-manufacturer Stickley. There is plenty of information already published about those, and they are still being made today.
If you click on many of the following photos, you will see much larger versions of them.
Janet Howland, June, 2004: This chair came from my grandmother's estate. I am not sure if it was hers or her mothers. Perhaps these pictures can help someone shed a little light on its date and manufacturer. The seat cushion and
back are upholstered with springs and are attached to the frame. The legs have wooden castors. bjhowland[at]juno.com
Ann Mount, May, 2004: I inherited a what I think is a Morris Chair which had been my grandfather's. It is oak, with solid oak panel sides and has lion head armrests and heavy paw feet. The chair is reclined by pushing against the back while sitting and then pulling the foot-rest from beneath a flap at the front and sliding it forward. The cushions are not loose and, when it was new, I believe it was upholstered in brown leather. I grew up in my grandparent's home in south central Alabama. This chair was in my bedroom when I was growing up. It was my favorite chair for reading. I am wondering if you know of any resources which would help me determine where it was manufactured and what year it might have been made. email@example.com
Mavis, UK, Jan 2004: This was given to me in 1934. Is it a Morris Chair? I have recovered it. This is not the original covering. It was dark brown wood, which I have stripped and polished. What would be the value of such a chair? I am curious to find out more about Morris Chairs. I have a friend who has a similar, and she asked me if this was a Morris Chair. enquiry[at]kemnay.org.uk
Doug Stanard, Jan 2004: When my Father died he had an old chair in the garage (real nice, but with newish and can I say ugly cushions). Is this in fact a Morris chair? dstanard[at]sc.rr.com
Helen, April, 2003: My grandmother left me one of these recliners and I can't seem to find too much information about them. This one has carved lion's heads on the ends of the arms and carved paws at the end of the front legs. The side of the chair (where your spindles are located) sports a harp-shaped panel of wood. The two cushions are still upholstered in the original "plush" with leather backings. They seem to be stuffed with straw or something equally "crackly" and coarse. I love the chair and it brings back so many fond memories of my grandmother! theshack[at]niagara.com
Helen Farrell, of Watertown, New York, September, 2004: I have a Morris Chair which belonged to my grandfather. It was passed down to one of his daughters, who subsequently gave it to her daughter. It was in storage in a garage for at least 25 years when I learned of its continued existance. At my request, my cousin gave the chair to me, and I am in the process of "bringing it back to life" — so far, all I've done is cleaned it thoroughly with Murphy's Oil Soap. Will send along a picture when I get beyond bare bones!
I know nothing about its history — only that it's a Morris chair, and it was "Grandpa's Chair" — he sat in it every evening and listened to the radio (often with me in his lap!) While listening, he would rub the nail of his right thumb up and down with the grain of the oak, and now there is an indentation of about 1/2 inch in the wood, and makes it twice as valuable to me! This would have been about 1938. My chair has a brass label on its back which reads
Latimer & Adams Adjustable Chairs
Patented July 30, 1889
September 9, 1890
Utica, NY - U.S.A.
I have searched for information about this organization, but have so far found nothing. If anyone reading this can share anything about this concern, I'd appreciate your passing the info along! (heken[at]gisco.net)
Eric Renner owns a Morris-style rocker, and asked in October, 2004: Have you ever seen a Morris chair like this one with what might be seal's heads on the armrests? Know anyone who has info? (pinhole[at]gilanet.com)
Richard Cox wrote Dec. 3, 2004: I have a Morris chair that belonged to my grandfather and has been in the family for about 100 years. A small metal label on the chair reads Kelly Comfort Chair, Clinton, Iowa.
I can find no information about the company.
Jim wrote Jan 17, 2005 about his Streih Morris chair. Decals on Streih chairs of the era of Jim's chair announce, "EACH CHAIR HAS THIS SIGN . . . . Streih MORRIS CHAIR . . . . TRADEMARK REGISTERED . . . ." This label also bears a image of a man reclining on his Streih Morris Chair, his legs outstretched on the footrest attached to the chair. The front legs are heavily carved. Each portrays something like a winged sphinx. If Jim sends me photos of his chair I'll post them here. It would be interesting to compare his chair to the one on the label. Jim hopes someone who sees this can tell him something about the manufacturer, where and when his chair was made, etc. (JYINGLING[at]ec.rr.com)
Here is a Streih Morris chair owned by Jerry L. Bryant, Research Curator and Resident Archaeologist, Adams Museum & House, Deadwood, SD. He recently refinished the wood of this chair, but has done nothing to the original cushion coverings. The Streih Furniture label on the bottom of the adjustable foot rest marks this as catalogue number 545. The style of the label , along with Jerry's assertion that this upholstery is origianl suggests to me that this chair was produced later than Jim's chair cited above.
Here is one of the columns, and the device that adjusts the back's reclining angle. (ArcheoMoos[at]aol.com)