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Bidding starts 27 July & concludes 31 July 2021 from 10am

    • Lot # 27889

    The Freebie

    Estimate between  R 1.00  to  R 1.00
    Unit price  per 


    Late Victorian oak press back caned seat dining chair.

    The art of press back...

    During the Golden Age or Golden Oak Period of the 1870s, elaborate hand carving was popular. Craftsmen began using oak wood more, and a standout for hand carving fine oak furniture was a man named Robert J. Horner. Coats of orange shellac with a yellow tint were applied to oak wood to produce a golden glow, contributing to the “Golden Oak Period.”

    As technology advanced, it brought hand carving practices to an end by the close of the 19th century. While the wealthy could afford hand carving, they did not like having to wait so long for the work to be completed. Tools developed to replace hand carving included the spindle carver, router and die press.

    For the steel die, crucial for press back chairs and benches, designs were added to steel plates that were mounted on rollers. Pressure was applied to the steel die as it rolled over the wood canvas of the chair back, achieving a hand carved look in less time. The design was transferred to the wood, literally pressing it in, hence the name “press back chair” came to be. Press back dining chairs were popular during the 1800s and 1900s. Many were sold through catalogues. Consumers wanted the look of a hand carved back without the wait time. In addition, the pressed design was more affordable than hand carving. Oak double press back chairs became stars of mail order catalogues since they looked stunning and were made fast. (A double press back features a press back on both sides of the chair crest, not just one side.)