Chicago Antiques Guide

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Victorian Spoon Back Arm Chair

Posted Tuesday, April 11 by Brian

Victorian Spoon Back Chair.jpg I bought what looks like a Victorian balloon (spoon?) back chair at a moving sale and was curious to know what it is and it's worth. The condition is really outstanding. The fabric of course isn't original. The coil springs in the seat are in good condtition and there are no repairs or any damage on the frame. The carvings are large and detailed.


Your chair is indeed a Victorian spoon-backed arm chair. Balloon back chairs have a round wood frame back shaped almost exactly like a balloon. Balloon backs can be open or upholstered closed.

This style chair has been popular for a long time. So, it is not unreasonable to ask if this is in fact an antique. This style was very popular in the second half of the 19th Century. The have also been maunufactured extensively in the 20th Century. Yours appears to be an original from the details that are more apparent in the other photos you sent.

To say that your chair is Victorian only says that it was made during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901. There were however several periods and styles withing that 64 year reign. The period is referred to as Renaissance Revival and the style as Rococco Revival. The Renaissance Revival period borrowed from and mixed several styles, such as Rococco, Classical and Gothic. Furniture from the 19th Century, made in these styles are usually referred to as "Neo-Whatever", or "Whatever Revival".

Here is a link to a description of the American Renaissance Revival, from the Glossary of the Antiques Roadshow.

Factors affecting value are the over all quality (very good), condition (appears excellent) and construction (factory, not hand made). Values vary greatly with geography and market. Here in Chicago, the chair would probably sell in the $500-$1,000 range depending on the individual dealer and market.

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