Lancashire antique dealers are well acquainted with Dreweatts of Donnington. The Berkshire auction room has been named the finest in the country by Antiques Trade Gazette. On May 24th, Dreweatts held an important sale of antique furniture, including the Oliphant Oak Collection. High prices were realised on antique chests, antique dining tables and other items of 17th century oak furniture, with one antique carver chair realising £15000, against an estimate of £3000 – £5000.
Lancashire dealers may well have made the journey to Berkshire, lured by the promise of antique dining chairs from their neck of the woods. The Oliphant family were important collectors of 17th century English vernacular furniture, with a particular fondness for panel-back chairs. The eight examples at Dreweatts, which carried estimates of between £1800 and £5000, were predominantly from the Leeds/Halifax and West Midlands area – including the £15,000 star buy. Close enough to be of interest to buyers in Preston.
Antique balloon backed dining chairs were unknown in the mid-17th century. Historically, it was the norm for lords and kings to show their authority by sitting at the head of the table on a paneled chair with arms, while those of lower ranks sat on benches. In staunchly Royalist Lancashire, the style continued to be popular, joined later by lighter turned or “throwne” armless dining chairs, often upholstered. By the 18th century, decorative carved panels had given way to a more open design; the forerunner of the antique balloon back dining chair .
In Preston, antique dealers sell Reformation antique dining chairs in both original and Victorian Revival format. Naturally, the latter will be a lot cheaper!
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