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Personal Effects, Feb. 11

By Jerry Sampson

Contributing writer

Question: J., I just love these little chairs. The back of the tallest one is just 26 inches high. The one on the left was purchased 42 years ago in Lexington by my mother when her first grandchild was born.

The other three I bought at estate sales or auctions in Danville and Harrodsburg when our own grandchildren were born. The children like to sit in them when they visit, but will soon be too big for them.

Because the chairs are so cute, we’ll keep them just for decoration and hope to pass them down someday. What can you tell me about children’s chairs? Are they worth collecting?

childrens chairs 1

Answer: Ahhh, this is a trickey one. Children have had chairs as long as grown-ups have had chairs. There are many examples of many different styles and periods. You don’t see them too much, as they were used over and over and didn’t last as well as adult chairs.

Yes, children’s chairs are certainly worth collecting — to some. You have some nice country styling going on, pretty wood and the woven bottoms are, today, works of art in themselves.

Add this to the equation. There is nothing like the romantic story of a child who might have sat in that chair 100 years ago, or more in your case.

But then the reality comes knocking on the door. Just how many children chairs do you really need? Where do you put them all? There was a time that children’s chairs were in demand, not so much by people with little tykes, but by doll collectors.

A charming look indeed, with a vintage doll sitting in an antique child’s chair. Sadly, doll collectors are a rare breed anymore. More and more dolls aren’t sitting in old chairs.

So that puts us back to actual little people sitting in them. And when they grow up, they can’t fit in them anymore. Once again, we’re back to how many do you need and where do you put them?

Big questions for today’s modern lives. I think that you answered your own question. Use them for decorations. They are great to feature in a country display or perch beside a fireplace or at the foot of a bed.

As a side note, they really look cool hanging on a wall. Write down the history of where you got the chairs and take photos, NOW with the grandkids sitting in them. Trust me, photos will always help to spark interest and kindle fond memories when they do inherit them as adults. I’d enjoy what you have. Don’t go out and try to corner the children’s chair market — unless you have lots of room and it’s more than just a passing or needed decorating hobby.

At a retail level, I’d say the example on the left and in the middle are in the $100 range and the gorgeous chair with the vase shaped finials and arms would be in the $200 range.

Thanks for sharing them with us.