Yesterday, David Beach of Whispering Woodworks delivered three chairs he reproduced for us. The original, which is in my wife Betsy's possession, is one of a set of 12 dining room chairs that, along with a dining table, were crafted by a slave artisan in King and Queen County, Virginia, possibly as early as 1820. The whereabouts of the table and the other chairs is not known. They were dispersed among various family members generations ago and if they still exist are no doubt widely scattered.
The reproduction chairs, as is the case of the original, were handcrafted from curly or tiger maple. The finish of the original is not entirely certain since the existing example has been refinished, but the reproductions are probably close in appearance. The maple was treated with two coats of aniline dye to deepen the color and bring out the figure in the wood. This was followed by seven coats of varnish wiped on to create a solid yet low sheen finish.
The photos show the reproduction chairs, which will be given to my wife Betsy's children and her other family members.