The history of the chair dates well back to before the year 1600 when only the mistress and the master of a house were allowed to sit in one. The evolution of the chair can be traced by the various styles of chairs which emerged over time. Although there are many different types of antique chairs, the following are a selection of the most popular antique styles.
Rumoured to have been the first antique chair, the Wainscot Chair style dates back to 1550. Characterised by the flat, heavy wooden seat and a medium rising, often extensively carved, back. The front legs of the chair are slightly turned while the back legs are straight. The carvings and details of the chair often indicates its origin and status. Often these chairs would be paired with a light upholstered cushion for seating.
Queen Anne Chair
The Queen Anne chair is easily distinguished amongst antique chairs. The backs of this particular style have a curved outline, often elaborately carved, and drop-in seats. While earlier versions of this chair sported taller backs, later styles showed preference to lower, broader backs and slightly rounded seat edges. The Queen Anne armchair soon developed afterward and is considered a rarity in antique chair collections.
Often referred to as the Antique Country chair, the Windsor chair first became popular with those in lower classes of society, in woodlands areas, in the late 17th century. The legs and backing stem from the flat, fixed wooden seat. The back is generally a hooped style but can often be found in a combed back style or a pointed, arched style back. Mass production of the chairs began in the late 19th century, but original antique styles can be noted by craftsmanship and chair markings.
This style of antique chair is often elegant in appearance if well preserved. A shorter back than that of a Queen Anne chair, an antique Regency chair is characterised by two back rails between two upright posts. The front legs of this chair curve outward (sabre form) with back legs similar but slightly less curved. Designs of the chair became more elaborate and detailed after 1835, but all styles of antique Regency chairs are found to be highly desirable when in good condition.