Sunday, January 16, 2011
The Pilgrim Century Chair has arrived!!
Pilgrim Century furniture is just what the name implies: furniture made in America from 1620 (the arrival of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower) until the year 1720 ( 100 years after the arrival).
I was in contact with a lady who wanted to sell the chair, and I told her that I would be ecstatic to own it.
She is in the state of Massachusetts and was curious to know why someone in Alabama would have any interest in anything so New England in nature.
I told her that my ancestors the Towne family had lived in Massachusetts during the Pilgrim Century and were part of the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 and that I wanted some original piece of furniture from the era to represent my Yankee heritage on that line.
That seemed to convince her that I was worthy. ( I descend from Joseph Towne whose sisters Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Easty were hanged as witches. Their sister Sarah was saved because the trials ended and the remaining prisoners were set free.)
It arrived here last week ( delivered accidentally to a neighbor's house but soon brought to my door) and I cautiously began cutting the layers of cardboard and tape around it.
It was encased like a mummy and had no damage from the trip North to its new home here.
Wallace Nutting devoted an entire book to Pilgrim Century furniture and the chair I have is the type he calls a "mushroom" chair because of the mushroom-like hand rests at the end of the arms.
This particualar style was made 1680-1710 before going out of favor.
The front posts are sausage cut.
The seats of these chairs are rush seats. The arm rests are small in diameter and slant down.
The back slats will number three to five and are flat for comfort.
There are those whose entire house is Pilgrim Century ( as seen in Jill Peterson's books Homecoming and The Settlement and featured in her magazine A Simple Life.)
I cannot imagine living in a house with nothing in it dating after 1720. Maybe a lifetime collector in New England could achieve that, but not in Alabama. I'm happy with just one example.
On weekdays about 6 A.M. I walk through the front room and tell my chair Good Morning! before heading to school.
300 year old chairs are probably just happy to have survivied no matter where they find themselves, even so far away from Massachusetts as the rolling hills of Alabama.
I'm sure it will feel right at home, or at least it will behave itself, knowing that my family were Salem witches and won't put up with any mess from an old chair.