Inventory research suggests that the Moravians made a significant body of upholstered furniture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In fact, they seem to have had more upholstered furniture than their back country neighbors. With a tannery right here in Salem, upholsterers and others working in leather had a ready supply of materials.
Although the leather upholstery on this example appears to be replaced, the chair was probably originally upholstered in leather fastened with brass nails as you see here. An eighteenth century cabinetmaker’s price list from Salem lists, “Arm chair, the wood & work” for 1 pound 4 shillings, suggesting that the covering of the chair would be done by another artisan. In Salem, saddlers sometimes did furniture upholstery.
Leather upholstered arched back chair with vestigal “wings” or supports on each side of the back; leather upholstery tacks on over the rail with brass tacks; curved arm rests terminating in scrolled hand-hold supported by slightly turned stile; tapered square legs.
Upholstered furniture is extremely rare in the pre-civil war backcountry. Years of MESDA field research have uncovered almost no upholstered furniture in the backcountry other than a significant body of upholstered Moravian pieces such as this chair (BLR).
This chair descended in the Winkler family of Salem.