3 Stick Chairs and a Pig Bench


It’s a good day when I find three new images of stick chairs. Researcher Suzanne Ellison sent me the September 2015 issue of Antique Collecting recently, and I devoured it this morning while juggling some technical publishing problems.

Inside the issue were three stick chairs – two likely Welsh and one labeled as Irish. All are notable for one reason or another. Let’s take a look.

The chair above was listed for sale by Suffolk House Antiques and has a burr ash seat that is 2-1/2” thick. There are several things I like about this chair. Its spindle layout and armbow are similar to the chairs I’ve been building recently, but the crest rail and back spindles are quite eye-catching. I like the way the crest rail is curved along its top edge – very graceful.

The three back spindles look delicate and fragile, though I doubt they are. I really like how the maker bent the two outside spindles outward. It’s a nice contrast with the density and verticality of the lower spindles and seat.


The second chair was featured in an article on auction results. Though it’s not specifically called out as Welsh, it looks it to me. This chair has a charming lightness to it, despite its 14 spindles. Also, take a look at the “hands” of the armbow. They end in a nice semi-circle. Finally, the ogee on the ends of the crest rail is a nice classical surprise on a folk chair. Who knows if this detail is original to this chair. But it works.


The third chair is listed as an Irish fruitwood chair from the 18th century. I’m charmed by the low seat and the overall boxiness of the thing. Also, if you look close at the seat you can see there is a hole that is plugged at the rear of the seat (it could be a knot but I think that’s unlikely). This chair might have started off as a 3- or 5-legged chair.


Finally, a fascinating pig bench from Suffolk House antiques that might be from the Middle Ages according to the magazine. This bench proves that sometimes warped wood can be your friend.

— Christopher Schwarz

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7 Responses to 3 Stick Chairs and a Pig Bench

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but what’s a pig bench?

  2. jelwell82 says:

    A bench for pigs obviously…

  3. Jeff Hanna says:

    I wonder why one of the spindles sticks out on the arm bow in the first one? No one bothered to trim it? I love the character on these pieces; you can’t fake that.

  4. John Hippe says:

    Thanks for sharing these pictures. I always like seeing new pictures of Welsh Stick chairs. I notice that on the third chair that the spindles all seem to be sticking out of the chair arms. I assume that this is a result of aging/wear.

    • What I have seen in old chairs is that the spindles are straight, and the holes are straight. So after years of use – people pressing down on the seat and arms – the arms and seat are driven further onto the spindles and legs. And so they protrude a bit.

      The way around this problem (or to minimize it) is a tapered joint so the arms and seat cannot be driven down.

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