A Tale of Two Chairs - The Selig Chair and the Chippendale Chair

When Kathleen and I wrote about our favorite things, she mentioned loving the Selig chair, and I decided upon the Chippendale chair – both so different, but beautiful, classics in their own right.

Selig Z chairs are typified by simple, elegant and sweeping lines associated with Danish furniture of the post-war period.  The design of this style chair is most often attributed to three Danish furniture designers – Finn Julh, Poul Jensen, and Ib Kofod Larsen.  Built of very high quality wood such as walnut beech or teak,  many vintage Selig chairs are still available and are very collectible. Rare pieces in pristine condition may be found at international auction houses such as Sotheby’s, but many collectors might find these chairs more easily on-line at bidding sites such as Ebay. Collectors should be aware that there are a number of contemporary reproductions of the Selig chair being produced in the United States, Europe, and Japan.  Authenticity should be carefully checked.  Hopefully, this pair of vintage mid-century 50’s Danish modern Poul Jensen chairs that were sold on Ebay for $4000 are authentic.  On the other hand, a Craigslist buyer purchased an almost identical pair for a mere $50!  After a little cleaning, polishing, and some new cushions, this buyer felt he had really scored a steal.


Chippendale chairs, of course, have been around a lot longer.  One of the best-known names in the history of furniture design is that of Thomas Chippendale (1718-79).  After an apprenticeship under his father, he moved to London and began his cabinetmaking business.  In 1754 he published the first edition of his book, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director. This catalog of English furniture design is probably a major reason he became so well-known.  Because the book became used widely, it is difficult to distinguish the pieces actually made in Chippendale’s workshop.  Thus, the name Chippendale is freely applied to any pieces in the style in which he worked.  Chippendale’s style is seen most characteristically in his chairs. His early works were similar to the early Georgian Queen Anne style with cabriole legs, carved feet and elaborate splat back with a yoke form at the top. In later years, he used a straight Marlborough leg and reintroduced stretchers to add strength.  Backs became even more intricate with elements such as Gothic tracery, Chinese latticework, and ribbon motifs borrowed from Louis XV furniture.  Today, true Chippendale antiques would be rare indeed, but fine quality reproductions have been made by many furniture manufacturers over the years.  Chippendale style chairs are rather ornate, but they are an enduring and timeless design classic.

Photo Credits

Selig Chair found on Ebay

Craigslist Find – The Hunt for Vintage Blog

Engraved Plate from The Gentleman and the Cabinet-Maker’s Director

Chippendale Chair from Maitland Smith