Set of 6 paint decorated Pennsylvania chairs with rare grey colored backgrounds. I have owned many sets of Pennsylvania chairs through the years, but this is the only set I have seen in this particular color. The beautiful, green and black painted decoration and copper-colored, gilt stenciling is comprised of whimsical leaves and fruit, and there are pinstriped borders and trim throughout.
This is mule-ear design with half-spindle backs and plank seats. They were made circa 1845-1865, probably in central Pennsylvania (Union County or one of counties bordering it, based on the combination of form and decoration). The origin of this chair type with this shape of seat is uniquely Pennsylvania, made primarily in rural communities as a less costly and more durable outgrowth of the urban windsor. Production began in the 1840’s and virtually ceased in the 1880’s. Chairs were typically made by one person and painted by another, although in the same shop. Most historians feel that they were made to order with regard to decoration style, color, and to some degree, construction. It is almost unheard of, however, to see any more than 6 matching Pennsylvania plank seat chairs. This is a bit hard to explain given the large size of rural families, but the chairs must have been costly enough to make the purchase of more than 6 an extravagant undertaking for most rural households.