Original Knox Chair Acquired by Friends for Display at the Vanderveer Knox House
A Henry Knox Windsor armchair with bamboo turnings, no white paint, and one spindle missing, now in it's rightful home on display at the Vanderveer/Knox House & Museum
If there's ever a thought about destiny, you might find it in this story about an antique chair with a famous history that has found it's resting home here at the Vanderveer / Knox House and Museum.
A few months ago , Jeanne Galbraith, a member of the board of trustees of the Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House received a call from a neighbor and antiques dealer telling her that an original 1795 General Knox windsor chair was recently sold at an antique auction. However, the chair was going be made available to the public via the purchaser, Laurel Meadow Antiques in Mechanicsville, VA. "To say the least, we were very excited about the news and contacted Laurel Meadow's immediately", noted Galbraith.
The Friends contacted the Virginia antiques dealer and with mutual excitement agreed that what was originally a white windsor chair, used by General Knox for his guests in his Maine estate, was destined to become a monumental piece at what was once the temporary home to General Knox and his family in Bedminster. General Knox resided in the Bedminster Vanderveer house while he was overseeing the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment and Artillery Park during the winter of 1778-1779.
The chair is now a traditional brown natural color with the white paint removed and is currently having it's missing back spindle repaired with a matching piece. According to Jeanne Galbraith, "It was quite lucky that we got this piece. It was actually offered first to the General Knox Museum in Montpellier, Maine but they already had what they felt was necessary for their collection." So the chair went back in the antique dealer's inventory. "But when the dealer found out that we were a Knox museum, they were even more excited that the chair would find a wonderful home to save and cherish. A portion of the cost of the chair came in the form of a donation by Laurel Meadows as they were so pleased to have it displayed at our museum."
Thank goodness for our neighbors who know our cause!
While there were 100 chairs commissioned originally, there were only eleven known surviving chairs remaining according to the General Knox Museum in Maine. What has now become noted as "the twelfth chair", this original Knox chair will soon be on display at the Vanderveer House for anyone to visit and see.
Who Knows of other Knox Owned Items?
As the Vanderveer / Knox House & Museum continues it's acquisitions, we are ALWAYS interested in knowing about items that were once owned by General Henry Knox. Especially items that he owned in 1778-1779 while he was residing in Bedminster/Pluckemin, New Jersey.
So help us and keep your eyes pealed! And drop us a note if you find something.
More about "The Twelfth Knox Chair"
by Pete Prunkl (Maine Antique Digest -2009)
A 1795 Windsor chair by Philadelphia makers William Cox and Joseph Henzey surfaced in June at a Virginia auction house. From a set of 100 identical Windsor armchairs with bamboo turnings, it was made for General Henry Knox (1750-1806). The general retired as the nation's first secretary of war the year he commissioned the chairs. All 100 oval-backed white-painted armchairs were sent to Knox's newly built 19-room mansion, Montpelier, in Thomaston, Maine. There Knox and his wife, Lucy, enjoyed the life of a gentleman farmer, like his friends Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Antiques dealer David Deal of Virginia discovered at an auction preview that a chair was marked "W. Cox" and twice with the mark "IH" identifying the later work of Joseph Henzey. Deal's research on the marks led him to the General Henry Knox Museum where eight of the chairs are housed in Montpelier. The museum's acting executive director, Ellen Dyer, confirmed that Deal's chair was one of the 100 commissioned by Knox.
Why two sets of marks? According to the museum's Web site, "There is no other record that these two men ever worked together, and it is possible that Cox simply required assistance to assemble the large 1795 order."
The original Montpelier fell into disrepair following Henry Knox's death and that of his wife. The last family member to live there was their eldest daughter, Lucy Flucker Knox Thatcher. When she died in 1854, the furnishings, including the 100 Windsor chairs, were dispersed to family members or sold at public auction.
Prior to Deal's discovery, only 11 of the Windsors had been located. Besides the eight at the rebuilt Montpelier, one is held by the Maine Historical Society, another is in a private collection, and the 11th is housed at Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia.
Deal's research was completed in record time. He began immediately after the morning preview and finished in time for the sale's 6 p.m. start. The Web site for the General Henry Knox Museum was the only place where the marks for Cox and Henzey occurred together. Part of the museum's collections catalog is on line, and Deal found a photo of the Knox Windsor chair. "Not only was the photograph at the museum's Web site a match, but more important, the markings matched exactly those on the chair that I had just seen in the auction preview," said Deal. "I returned that night and bought the chair."
Photo: Above - The marks for William Cox and Joseph Henzey on the chair's underside.
Height: 38"; Seat Height: 16.5"; Seat Width: 18 5/8"; Depth: 17 5/16"
Today, there are only eleven known chairs from this set of 100. Eight are owned by the Henry Knox Museum , one by the Maine Historical Society, one is in a private collection, and there is one with identical markings in the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia .
Originally published in the November 2009 issue of Maine Antique Digest. (c) 2009 Maine Antique Digest
About William Cox
William Cox, whose brand is stamped under the seat, had arrived in Philadelphia in the 1760s, probably from neighboring Delaware, and likely trained or completed his training with a city craftsman. He had set up in business for himself by March 8, 1768, when he took on an apprentice- William Widdifield, a poor boy, who later had a successful chair making business of his own in the city. Throughout his long career (d. 1811), Cox enjoyed the patronage of a number of prominent individuals, including Gen. John Cadwalader, Gen. Henry Knox, and merchant Stephen Girard. Cox furnished dozens of Windsors for Girard's extensive export business along the coast and in the Caribbean. More info - Click Here
Other articles on the 12th Chair - Click Here
About Laurel Meadows Antiques
Laurel Meadow Antiques in Mechanicsville, VA also wrote a piece - Click Here
Submitted: March 4, 2010
Written by: Brooks Betz
Revised: March 6, 2010