I’m not the first person this has ever happened to, and I won’t be the last. I thrifted something I thought was worth major moolah and it turned out to be a dud.
It was this chair:
I thought it looked pretty old, had an asymmetry that suggested it’d been made by hand, and was reminiscent of the chairs I’d seen in my local county museum. For $3.50, I decided to take it home and see what I could find with research.
I began to get excited when I learned that there were similar chairs handcrafted in my county by pioneers who brought their furniture making expertise from “the old country”. These chairs needed to be simple and affordable, since the other people settling in the area didn’t have a lot of cash to spend.
I got even MORE excited when I found out there was a local chairmaker in the late 1800s named Richard Poyner, whose work presently sits in the Yale Art Gallery Note the “mule ear” sides? Even though this wasn’t as mathematically exact as the one in the Yale Art Gallery, maybe it was still a Poyner chair.
There just happens to be a local expert on Poyner chairs in my county (I know, an expert on a specific chairmaker. Who’da thunk it?). I contacted him and he very graciously replied.
Sorry Emily but it is not a Poynor chair. Over the years, I have had chairs like this but didn’t find who made them. They were factory-made, probably in the 1930s or 40s.”– local chair expert
Oh. Well ok then.
So I’ve got a manufactured chair from the 30s or 40s. Still pretty cool, but probably only cool to me. What to do now?
When I first brought it home, I was all like “BACK AWAY FROM THE CHAIR” to my kids. My son sat on it and I was like “NOOOOOOOOOOO!”, which was confusing for him, since it’s a chair. I still don’t want the kids to sit on it, but I won’t worry that much if it develops a bit more wear in our home.
Enjoy it for what it is.
According to the expert, it’s from the 30s or 40s. Think of how many butts have sat in this chair! Actually, don’t think of butts. That’s not appealing. Instead, look at the wear on the front legs! How many hands have rested there during conversation around the table, before refrigerators and electric stoves were in every household! It’s still a piece of history, even if it’s not a piece of significant-to-historians history.
Even though I don’t think it’s sturdy enough to withstand my kids, that doesn’t make it useless. I’ve turned it into my Dyson minivac resting place. The vac used to sit directly on the floor when being recharged and was in constant danger of getting tripped over. Now it’s on a highly visible “stand”.
Go Dada-ist on it.
This one I can’t do, because I can’t paint in my apartment (see “what to do when you can’t paint”). But imagine if it was spray painted all one color, so it looked like an artist’s “musing on the concept of what it is to be a chair”.
You could put up a little plaque beside it like it’s a real piece of art, and dazzle your friends with your sophistication.
If you end up picking up a thrift that isn’t worth what you thought it was, that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It can still have meaning and purpose to you. And anyone you want to impress, if you spray paint it hot pink. Ok, maybe not hot pink.
To the thrift store!