by Dr. Fred D. Johnson
· Paperback: Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches
· Publisher: Waterford Foundation (2003)
This 270-page book is filled with photographs, drawings and charts that illustrate the surprising diversity and undeniable skill of local chair manufacturers. While the reader will be immediately captivated by the beauty of the objects that are pictured in this volume, it is very much a “hands on” manual, specifically designed to enable owners of local chairs, rockers and other “specialty pieces” to identify what they have and who made them.
Dr. Johnson’s passion for 19th century furniture, in particular the distinctive acorn finial chairs and rockers that were made in the Waterford area by John Mount, began while attending local country auctions in the early 1970s. He soon realized, however, that the dispersal of these pieces from the homes of their original owners would preclude any possibility of recording their history, or identifying their makers.
To remedy this situation, Dr. Johnson began to photograph and meticulously measure the chairs that he encountered. Each chair was assigned a number that was recorded on a label affixed to a back leg, and the measurements and other data were kept on individual sheets. (To date, he has personally inspected 426 side chairs, 126 armless rockers, 99 arm rockers, 74 plank-seat chairs, 26 child’s chairs and rockers, 6 armed side chairs and 2 benches.) During the hours before auctions, Dr. Johnson frequently attracted a crowd of onlookers eager to witness the documentation process and learn about Loudoun’s rich heritage of local furniture makers. He was always generous in sharing this information, and it was not long before he was being invited into the homes of “old-timers” and collectors to “authenticate” their locally made furniture.