Set of Five Split-bottom Chairs
John Rogers from Ruddles Mill, Kentucky
Maple and Hickory
Ref. No. 100512_022
This set of chairs is attributed to John Rogers who made chairs within the decade of the 1820s at Ruddles Mill in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Rogers was identified by Edna Talbott Whitley in her A Checklist of Kentucky Cabinetmakers* with two illustrated examples in the addendum. This set was collected from an estate sale at Ruddles Mill in the 1980s. Fortunately, the chairs have not been refinished and exhibit a paint history of red to white to brown, all likely having been applied in the 19th century. The red is almost indiscernible with the worn Spanish brown being the exposed finish. There are several repairs at the bends of back posts (using tiny, machine cut square tacks), which likely were executed early in the chairs existence by a skilled hand when the green wood cured and split at the stress point. Several rungs and seat rails have been replaced (where missing) since photographed to stabilize the set. Three chairs have remnants of a very early, split-oak seat with one being almost complete. The other two have a later split seat now tattered and in need of replacement for usage.
These chairs are the only set we have encountered from this early chair maker. Infrequently, individual examples are discovered, usually in a refinished state. This set, with a historic finish and full height, survive in an unusual and very acceptable state of preservation.
*Whitley, Edna Talbott, A Checklist of Kentucky Cabinetmakers From 1775 to 1859, Second Edition 1982. p. 91, with two illustrated examples in the addendum under “S.”