The Levin House, Parkwyn Village

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Indeed it is fascinating, that a professional would have the experience of stepping out of a "comfort zone" to attend to an important acquisition from a quite different era.

The lable says only "gumwood and upholstery." No mention is made of the actual matter of the chair: is it plywood, edged in solid ? Gum veneer
plywood would have been an oddity at any period, I would have thought. Of course it may have been that custom-veneered panels were used in the
house, and of course in the cabinetry and furniture. I suppose there was no opportunity to peek at a hidden edge ?

The little triangular wing legs are unusual for this type. Perhaps the vertical panels of the chair are even closer together than usual ?


An unusual armed version, for Brandes:

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Lewis, in 1939, has a chair from which the postwar versions descend ?

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And the Eifler office-designed chair for the Peterson residence has a very narrow stance, without "training wheels"; the back is narrower than that of the Winn example.

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Tracy, in 1954. Mr Wright seems to have conceived of the chair as an object like a fine vase, which exhibits "lift" by rising from a narrow foot.

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Many prewar Usonian chairs are narrow in front and wide at the back, like a tricycle. Carleton Wall:

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JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

Hey, that Carleton Wall chair has done the same thing with the Schumacher fabric, centering the square motif in the back cushion.

Speaking of Brandes, years ago I got a tour of that house from Brandes' son-in-law (friend of a friend). He told a story that someone had broken into the house and stole their living room chairs. The replacement chairs he had in the room then were Usonian-esque and I'd assumed they were duplicates, but they didn't look anything like the ones in your photo.
https://stuartisett.photoshelter.com/im ... eGNv_BfqOg
If they had ones like those in your photo, I didn't see them. Perhaps, they didn't replace the originals with the same design (?). Where did you get that pic?

Regarding Winn, you might be on to something regarding the gumwood and the lack of mention of plywood. My wife commented that it didn't look like plywood to her. I told her sometime they edge banded the plywood with solid strips.
Looking close at these photos, however, it doesn't appear to have edge banding, or be plywood. We can see the radiusing of the outside corners of their cuts. Do you suppose this is fabricated using solid stock?

In the lower photo, that triangle we see under the side piece is a solid piece that spans across to the other side piece. You can see it bridging underneath. I haven't seen that detail before in others.

Image

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

I need to see the rest of that last closeup, to see all of the front edge of the seat. A solid-stock panel of that size, made in the twentieth century, would
certainly be glued up of two or three or four boards -- whose ends, and joints, must be apparent on two of the four edges . . .

Some of those parts might have veneered edges -- those can be fragile, and almost never survive undamaged, especially near the floor -- but the seat
doesn't appear to be anything but solid wood.

It is possible to miter a solid edge onto both plywood and solid, which in the latter case would conceal the ends of the boards. If mitered, that's a mighty
tight corner ! There's good reason not to edgeband solid wood: the panel will grow and shrink across the grain, with time, and the EB won't, which
opens corner joints. Not what we see here . . .

The rounded corners of the back board are of interest. We're seeing solid stock, there, surely. But the seat could still be edgebanded ply.

I see no obvious joint in the vertical panel and the grain is consistent across its width. I would be flabbergasted if that turned out to be a single board . . .

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

That triangular stick spanning the verticals and mounted at the crotches is unique. Is the triangular wing leg a continuous piece as well ? I see a foot at the far corner and nothing else, so I guess there are two separate wings. Unusual all around . . .

Now -- what is the bit of metal cylinder we see under the seat at rear ?

SDR

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

SDR: I don't think that's a metal cylinder we're seeing. I think it's a fabric loop holding the seat down. It doesn't look like that in the photo but I think I remember seeing it.

Here are some closer looks at the wood for your expert eyes:.

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thanks for the excellent images. Well, there's one visible solid-stock end-grain edge, to the left-hand triangle wing foot (assuming we're sitting in the chair, or
standing behind it). The left edge of the seat shows saw-marks, unlike the right-hand edge we looked at before. Did a piece of, say, 1/8" or 1/4"
edgebanding fall off, leaving a raw edge never meant to be seen ? It's possible to read this front corner of the chair as having 1/4" EB to the front of the seat,
its end now revealed by missing side EB. But nothing is really clear -- so far.

I'm beginning to think that we see veneer edgebanding to the front of those rear uprights, seen below the back. What an interesting hodge-podge . . .

Now: the winglets are perhaps Doug fir, while everything else is a bland material with no strong grain. Perhaps the verticals are solid gumwood,
with no EB. There's damage to the front legs, under the seat, that could be dented (soft) solid wood, or edgebanding. I'm seeing those wing legs as
remedies to a perceived or experienced tipping problem.

SDR

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

Look at this link -- another Winn chair. The wood in this one is dark brown. It's description says it's ash. The little triangular side wings (training wheels) are absent.

http://www.artnet.com/artists/frank-llo ... BD7rOS37A2

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JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

The triangular training wheel legs give that one Winn chair a grounded looking positioning. It reminds me abstractly of the Eames LCW chair, which has a similar stance.

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I recall seeing earlier photos of Rosenbaum where they had Eames DCW chairs at the dining table and an Eames LCW in Stanley's study.
Here are some Futagawa photos when the dining room contained Eames DCW chairs. I think they look like they fit. Nowadays, FLW designed dining chairs are re-placed there, and the Eames pieces are relocated in various rooms of the house, still looking compatible.

Image
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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Ha. Well, the triangular stringer seems to be an original detail to these chairs. As for the material, that's the strangest ash I've ever seen: no grain at all to
speak of. Ash has an open grain like oak, and a plain-sliced board would have highly-visible grain. Quartered or rift-sawn ash would have a ribbon grain
almost as visible as that of fir. And the stain that's on this chair would have brought that grain to the fore.

It's probably gum, like the first chair we looked at. And the lack of training wings tells us that those were added later -- wouldn't you say ?

SDR

Yes, I've never seen a more sympathetic pairing that those Eames DCWs around the Rosenbaum dining table. Who knew that Eames was sent from
heaven, along with the Rosenbaum wood-and-brick space-ship?

I love your pairing of the Eames LCW and the Winn chair. Maybe the owner of this chair -- post-Winn, even ? -- had that very image in mind when he or
she added them ! It's hard to deny that the very broad back practically demands them . . .

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The early Taliesin dining chairs -- there were two, one even wingier than the other -- are called to mind by these early-fifties dining chairs.

https://images.wisconsinhistory.org/700 ... 0010-l.jpg

Ah -- the later one was narrower. Maybe the same chair, cut down for some reason. Burned corners ?

https://archhistdaily.files.wordpress.c ... 8/1925.jpg

No -- different grain to the back. Unless there was more than one of this throne . . .

SDR

Craig
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Post by Craig »

I have the original 1996 auction listing of the Winn furniture. At that time chairs, hassocks, mirrors, photographs, letters and plans were sold. I believe one of the Winn daughters was the consignor.

The chairs without the triangle supports were designed so they could be incorporated into a larger grouping if needed - sort of a modular system. There was also a chair with a single right arm and a chair with a single left arm to complete the grouping. The chair pictured with the support was meant to be a stand-alone.

The original auction states the wood is cherry.
ch

SDR
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Post by SDR »

That's hilarious. One begins to feel that no auction catalog can be entirely relied upon. Granted, specie identification isn't a snap. I'm always impressed by the experts on the Antiques Roadshow; they seem sure of their knowledge.

No one's copping to the chair being modified. The difference in material of the wing feet is suggestive nevertheless.

SDR

Craig
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Post by Craig »

No one's copping to the chair being modified. The difference in material of the wing feet is suggestive nevertheless.
True enough. I was the owner of the chair pictured above (without the supports). I can attest that at least once I and the chair took a tumble when I extended my reach to the side in order to grab something off a nearby table. Perhaps the Winns tired of this experience and added the supports.
ch

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

Craig, thanks for sharing your firsthand expertise. Can you shed light on the wood specie & finish? Cherry doesn't sound right, even if it was stained to be that dark brown color.I'm not familiar with "gum wood" so I don't have an opinion of Atlanta's assignment of that specie, other than to look at this link:
http://www.hardwoodinfo.com/specifying- ... e-a-g/gum/

SDR, the chair Craig owned is shown from the rear. Would you guess that the back piece might be solid stock, given its radiused corners and cutout. And, in contrast, the vertical legs, seat, and back support are edge banded plywood? And the side 'training wings' are solid stock? Is that your best guess given the spotty evidence? If so, is that uncommen to mix ply with solid stock in Usonian chairs?
Last edited by JChoate on Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

Regarding the Taliesin wide winged dining chair, here's something from Steinerag:

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Uh oh, here's another cryptic Taliesin mini-mystery -- Steinerag titles this photo as taken in a "Private office" in taliesin III in 1926, meaning it was right after the rebuilding, probably prior to all the various later modifications. I wonder where this view was located. If simply in the Studio, then why the term "Private Office"? and why the lineup of chairs like this?

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