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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > Family Life 1680-1720 > Getting Things
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.

Getting Things : Importing Status


Seating furniture came in all shapes and sizes in the seventeenth century. It ranged from stools and benches to expensive leather upholstered chairs like the one shown here, imported from New York. The seating furniture one owned (if any) was directly related to a family's economic status. Wealth and power were two sides of the same coin in the seventeenth century. Those who possessed social and economic authority displayed and enhanced their status by buying objects like this chair. Types of seating furniture also reflected the social hierarchy of the period. A leather-upholstered chair seated distinguished visitors or the head of the household. Custom relegated children and others of low status to the rudest stools and forms, or even the floor.

It seems at first hard to understand how a chair made in New York made its way to the home of John Amsden (1686-1742) in Deerfield, Massachusetts. The Connecticut River is the key. It provided a critical route for traders transporting goods from New York, through Connecticut and on to Massachusetts. The chair was durable, fashionable, and expensive. It required the skills of three craftsmen: a turner, a joiner, and an upholsterer. Conspicuous consumption by those who could afford it ensured the livelihood of craftsmen like the ones who made this chair.


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Side chair with leather upholstery

creator   Unidentified
date   1660-1680
location   New York
height   37.0"
width   18.0"
depth   15.5"
process/materials   wood, leather
item type   Household Goods/Furniture
accession #   #1880.047.01

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See Also...

Old Indian House Arm Chair

Bannister Back Side Chair

Side Chair

Side chair with leather upholstery

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