Shaker Armless Rocker

Harvard, Massachusetts, circa 1840
Maple, figured maple, iron bolts, replaced caned seat, mellow old finish.
Height 51 ¾ inches, width of seat 20 inches, depth of rocker 27 ¾ inches

In describing this exquisite chair in The Encyclopedia of Shaker Furniture, authors Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks state: “This is clearly an exceptional chair, where the maker stretched the limits of design. Five slat chairs are rare, but its combination with the figured maple, cane seat, and short rockers with added extensions make this one of the best.” This impressively tall five-slat armless rocker is a classic expression of Shaker chairmaking from Harvard, Massachusetts. It is one of a rare group of sculptural maple armless rockers from Harvard distinguished by unusually tall rear posts that are consistent in design and construction, with reverse-graduated wide slats, signature candle-flame finials, and use of iron bolts to secure the short rockers. A closely related four-slat example (sold by us in the 1980s) is illustrated in Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks, The Complete Book of Shaker Furniture (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2003), p. 213, fig. 159. The finely carved and elegantly shaped maple rocker extensions, with chamfered edges secured by iron bolts, are characteristic Shaker features. These were added to the ends of the rockers for greater stability by a Shaker craftsman a short time after its manufacture.

Provenance:
Collection of Charles F. “Bud” Thompson (1922-2021), Canterbury, NH; Collection of Dr. Donald R. Sprowls (1939-2003) and Joanne Sprowls, Franklin, OH; Private collection; David A. Schorsch and Eileen M. Smiles, Woodbury, CT.

Published: 
June Sprigg, By Shaker Hands (New York: Knopf, 1975), p. 142, illustrated.
Charles R. Muller and Timothy D. Rieman, The Shaker Chair (Winchester, OH: Canal Press, 1984), pp. 66, 73, 75, illustrated.
Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks, The Complete Book of Shaker Furniture (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1993), p. 1, illustrated.
Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks, The Encyclopedia of Shaker Furniture (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2003), p. 362, fig. 545.
Timothy D. Rieman, Shaker Furniture: A Craftsman’s Journal (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2006), pp. 7, 112–13, illustrated.
David A. Schorsch and Eileen M. Smiles, Important Shaker Design from a private collection (Woodbury, CT: Antiquarian Equities, Inc., 2023), no. 1.

 

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