Historic chair found at the flea market

Believe it or not, this chair was found in Greenbrier County, and actually turned up at the flea market at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds.

One of 262 chairs commissioned for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1857, made by Bembe & Kimbel.

This chair was made by Bembe & Kimbel, a Victorian-era furniture and decorative arts firm founded in 1854 and based in New York.

One of 262 chairs commissioned for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1857, photographer Mathew Brady – who was responsible for producing the most important visual documentation of the Civil War era – purportedly received one of the chairs as a gift from Abraham Lincoln, a friend and subject he photographed many times over years.

President Andrew Johnson

The list of sitters who sat in this chair for Brady is considered a “who’s who” of American history-makers. No less than five U.S. presidents sat in the chair for portraits, as well as senators and civil servants, Civil War soldiers, Justices and Native Americans.

President James Garfield and his daughter

Made by Bembe & Kimbel, a Victorian-era furniture and decorative arts firm founded in 1854 and based in New York. Anton Bembe and Anthony Kimbel one of several firms commissioned to outfit the new House of Representatives Chamber at the U.S. Capitol, carved the Rococo Revival armchairs, designed by Thomas U. Walter, for members of Congress.

President Lincoln and son, Tad. President Rutherford B. Hayes, right.

One of 262 chairs commissioned for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1857, photographer Mathew Brady – who was responsible for producing the most important visual documentation of the Civil War era – purportedly received the chair as a gift from Abraham Lincoln, a friend and subject he photographed many times over years.

General Joseph W. Fisher, and staff

The list of sitters who sat in this chair for Brady is considered a “who’s who” of American history-makers. No less than five U.S. presidents sat in the chair for portraits, as well as senators and civil servants, Civil War soldiers, Justices and Native Americans.

Mark Twain

This is not Brady’s chair, which was auctioned a few years ago. But, it is one of the 2 or 3 others known to have survived. And unlike the others, this one still retains its original oil cloth.

How it ended up in Greenbrier County is anyone’s guess….

Rutherford B. Hayes, and sons
One of 262 chairs commissioned for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1857, made by Bembe & Kimbel.

4 thoughts on “Historic chair found at the flea market

  1. Hi John. Just found your Facebook page and website recently and am already loving it! You and I have similar interests in history and it’s preservation. I’m your neighbor here in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. I love relic hunting/metal detecting and stumbling through dark and cluttered antique stores. So does my wife. I’m going to share this on my website and Facebook page too with a link back here. Keep up the good work!

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