Editor’s note: Where does the king keep his armies? Up his sleevies.
The maker of this chair had his own ideas about arm orientation. Read on if you want to find out more about this peculiar chair that was undoubtedly inspired by the works of well known Dutch author Charles Dikkens.
Please note: If you are scared of mentions of feces, fornication jokes or rectal tenons, please close your computer now and wait around for the next blog post about Bean the Shop Cat sleeping on a sheepskin after a good meal.
If you are reading this via email, click the headline to read the rest.
Klaus: So, here we gather once again to share our mutual love for vernacular chairs, infantile humor and puns!
Chris: Whip out the first victim!
Rudy: This is the information provided: “Attractive three-legged armchair of primitive form, constructed from various native woods in oak, ash and pine. With an exceptionally good seat height of 18” for this vernacular piece. Striking colour with a rich, naturally aged patination. Owners initials T.P., with the letter H also incised into the seat of the chair. A simple understated primitive piece of furniture.
“Late 18th century. Dimensions: 86.4 cm (34″) high, 50.8 cm (20″) wide, 36.8 (14.5″) deep.”
Rudy: I have a feeling this evening is going to be about arms.
Chris: And sphincters! That shot of the seat looks like it has puckered around the tenon.
Rudy: I think saw marks from cutting off the tenon? Why not leave them there? It’s charming.
Chris: Yes. Impacted colon disease thanks to Dr. Disston.
Klaus: Speaking of the colon, that back leg’s tenon will go right up there when you sit down in this chair.
Rudy: Some people might like that, some people might not.
Chris: I’ve never sat on a chair with an erection. You?
Rudy: You mean the chair or yourself?
Klaus: Yes, I’ve had an erection while sitting in a chair, but…
Rudy: I have had erections while sitting in chairs, too.
Klaus: Not uncommon.
Rudy: …or whilst looking at them.
Klaus: Same here.
Chris: I wonder if the normal person would notice.
Klaus: If you had an erection? I think they would, Chris.
Chris: No, being assaulted by a tenon.
Rudy: I guess it depends on what pants they are wearing.
Chris: Also, I don’t have much of a butt, so I feel vulnerable.
Klaus: I think most people would notice that they had a tenon up their pipeline.
Chris: Someone with a big butt might not notice. Then nine months later… baby stools come out.
Rudy: And they will have funny arms like this!
Klaus: This chat is going off the rails already.
Chris: Then they grow up to be backstools. Then awkward armchairs.
Klaus: We should talk about this chair’s arms and leave the butt behind.
Rudy: Did you see the tenon on the side of the left arm?
Chris: Where did the arms come from? Surely they are like a Welsh stick used for beating bad children or something?
Klaus: Pun intended, that was. IN CASE YOU DID NOT NOTICE!
Chris : Sorry, Klaus. Your English is very punny.
Rudy: Butt did you guys notice the tenon?
Chris: Is it oval?
Rudy: On the right side of the picture. Maybe the arm started off normal and someone made it go 90°?
Chris: Is that a broken-off stick?
Rudy: To me, it looks like that. With a wedge.
Chris: GOOD EYE. The arms would look better if rotated 90°.
Rudy: They surely would. I think the other arm might have one in that spot as well, butt it is hard to see.
Chris: Butt. Hard.
Rudy: Chris is getting my subtle puns.
Klaus: I am, too! You’re the punniest person I know! Anyway, that’s very interesting. The arms would look normal that way, being flipped 90°.
Chris: Might have been recycled from a failed chair?
Klaus: Perhaps this was a Build-a-Chair-Kit (TM) and he got the arms all wrong and mounted them at the wrong angle.
Rudy: Looks like the arms have split at the top.
Chris: There might be a split.
Klaus: Anyway, the arms looks so wrong like this.
Rudy: Wrong is the word.
Chris: Maybe the guy was an alcoholic and needed a chair arm that he couldn’t put a drink on.
Rudy: Good point!
Klaus: Ha ha. Early version of Antabuse.
Chris: This chair is real balls forward. I just see two giant penins. You sit in the chair and hold the balls.
Klaus: What on earth is a penin?
Chris: Penis! Heard of those?
Rudy: Penin is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Hauts-de-France region of France…
Klaus: Ha ha. Anyway, the chair looks like a limping zombie.
Chris: The back sticks look like swollen hot dogs. And the side sticks look like snakes that swallowed a pool ball.
Rudy: Yes, pretty awful. And a bit out of place. Nevertheless I think the chair exhibits something feminine.
Chris: What’s feminine about it?
Rudy: The way it stands; it does not have that dominant masculine quality of some Welsh examples.
Chris: I agree the chair has a lightness. And then the big dongs change the mood. As they always do.
Rudy: I like entasis, but this is not what I would call a good example
Chris: It’s the entasis you get when you pinch off.
Chris: HA HA! Rudy is on fire today!
Klaus: It would be so much easier for the chairmaker to mortise the long sticks through the arm if he flipped it 90°.
Rudy: Question is, why didn’t he!?
Chris: Rotating the arms of this chair would make this a winner. I have to believe some apprentice messed up.
Rudy: That could be.
Chris: Like someone who had never seen a traditional chair.
Rudy: The chair is different, just not good different.
Klaus: Exactly. It’s like a pizza with brown cheese. Different, just not good different.
Chris: I like the crest.
Rudy: I agree, the crest is nice! Maybe this is a rare example of a transitional form, between a backstool and an armchair. And they hadn’t quite figured out the right way to do the arms.
Chris: I am partial to the theory that the arms were used in a previous chair. Recycled. And poorly.
Rudy: I agree. But why the 90° turn? There is no good reason for that. I was thinking perhaps because of the width of the seat, but it’s 20″ wide so there’s plenty of space for the sitter between the arms.
Chris: Weirdly, there’s no tenon on the other arm. Maybe these were leftover parts? Like from a boneyard of failed arms?
Klaus: Maybe he figured it out after messing up the first arm, and then just went with the 90° orientation.
Rudy: Could very well be.
Klaus: He was already on thin ice.
Klaus: It can hardly be more than a few millimeters around that stick.
Chris: Good point. Tricky. I think Rudy is right; this arm had a tenon.
Klaus: I think so, too. Very interesting detail.
Chris: So this is a chair from the Wrong Way Arm-y.
Klaus: He probably found the parts at the local Arm-y’s flea market.
Chris: I do like the color of this chair. It’s nice to see one that doesn’t look doctored.
Klaus: Yes. For once, a chair with a realistic patina.
Chris: It might be doctored. But well doctored.
Rudy: I agree! I like the natural patina it has acquired. You can see the wood grain very well.
Klaus: This one is probably not from Far East Wales.
Rudy: Except the seat – look at the chunk missing.
Chris: Yeah. I wish we had a better photo of that.
Klaus: Yup. Suspicious damage.
Chris: It looks like a massive splinter got torn out. Weird damage.
Klaus: Yup. Weird place to lose a chunk.
Rudy: Here you can see it a little bit in the background:
Rudy: Talk about tear-out, this guy went against the grain and just kept going. ”F*ck this piece of wood!!”
Klaus: You have to really mistreat a chair to make this happen. Unless it happened during the making.
Chris: I lightened the image a bit and zoomed in:
Klaus: Oh, nice, CSI Chris.
Chris: Strange V shape.
Klaus: Very. The mortises could not have created it
Rudy: Likely a knot in the board, but outside of this slab.
Klaus: Could be.
Chris: Good theory.
Rudy: That usually creates a V shape. When I plane the wrong way near a knot, this is what happens.
Klaus: Or he lost the seat out of the window in the 20-story building he had his shop in.
Chris: What about the tool marks on the front of the seat?
Klaus: Must be a rasp? It’s weird that it’s just there, though.
Chris: Usually these chairs have marks like that on the seat. From chopping wood.
Rudy: From chopping wood on the chair seat you mean?
Klaus: I was about to ask the same. But this is on the edge, so…
Chris: On the sitting part. Not the edge. Maybe this chair was stored someplace where it rubbed on rocks? Or there was some work performed between the sitter’s legs? And that marked the front edge?
Klaus: Could be a lot of things. Perhaps someone playing with a knife while sitting in it? My granddad had a friend who relaxed by rocking in a rocking chair while carving a hole in the arm of the chair with a rusty nail.
Rudy: Like spoon carving?
Chris: Or something like that, yes.
Klaus: I think that’s the most plausible, too.
Rudy: Whatever the work was, it certainly would make the wear exactly there.
Chris: The front edges of workbenches get those tool marks.
Klaus: Whittling or spoon carving and some tool that struck toward the edge.
Chris: Anyway, I love to think about these details.
Klaus: Same here. These details tell the stories.
Klaus: Is the crest pegged to the long stick, by the way?
Chris: Looks it.
Rudy: I was looking at that, too, but in another picture it looks more like a knot? Or a nail?
Klaus: Hard to say. So, a name for this chair? Zombie Sex Chair?
Rudy: Spastic zombie anal probe chair?
Chris: Ethel the Aardvark goes quantity surveying?
Rudy: Ha ha ha! Perfect.
Klaus: Ha ha ha. I have to watch that again tonight.