Collector’s chair hobby moved into museum

Miniature chair collection awarded World Record


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Barbara Hartsfield among some of her many miniature chairs. Photo courtesy Carolyn Richardson/ Georgia State University Alumni Magazine

Collecting as a hobby was not my intention when I purchased my first miniature chair in 1990.

At the time, I was only interested in publishing an article on the treatment of pregnant psychiatric patients within a community mental health center. I bought a few chairs and dolls to create a mood to write this article. Several years after the article was published I continued to buy an occasional chair during leisure shopping.

After reaching a milestone birthday in 1996, I started shopping every weekend for miniature chairs as a hobby. I was surprised to find very interesting chairs with lots of character and detail. The chairs were purchased from a variety of resources. Many retail stores had different chairs each week in their home decor and garden departments.

I attended monthly collectible and antique shows and visited antique shops in the metro Atlanta area and in Alabama. Vendors called me “the chair lady” and provided chairs they hoped I did not have. Items were also obtained from home catalogs, vacation trips and gifts from family and friends. I was introduced to eBay by a co-worker in 2003.

Shopping for chairs is always an exciting adventure. I looked for both “theme” chairs during major holidays and “functional” chairs designed as lamps, clocks, teapots, photo frames, bookends, inkwells, jewelry, cookie jars, ash trays, radios, chairs inside bottles and much more. Chairs are designed for each alphabet from A-Z. They are constructed from a vast array of material and ranges in dimensions from miniature to doll chair sizes.

I received a certificate in March 2008 from the Guinness World Record for having the largest collection of miniature chairs. The specific category for miniature chairs was created for my application of 3,000 chairs. I continue to add items to the collection.

I reached another milestone with retirement in 2007. I decided to share my collection with others to enjoy. In May 2009, I opened a three- room museum with a gift shop on Main Street in the historic Stone Mountain Village, near the Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. The renovated house where the collection is located was constructed in 1850.

Hundreds of chairs are displayed within 27 major exhibits and 15 smaller displays. The permanent exhibits are colorful and have exciting background themes such as:

Christmas, Easter, Patriotic, beach, Valentine, Coca-Cola, Halloween, sewing, Western (with functional horseshoe chairs) and much more. A 7-foot Christmas tree has more than 100 different “chair” ornaments. A safari scene displays wood “twig” chairs and jungle animals sitting in the chairs playing games. One hundred different chair/bench/stool/sofa “salt and pepper shakers” are displayed in a curio.

The museum is opened Friday and Saturday. Private group bookings are available during the week. Additional information is available at www.minichairgallery.net or e-mail contact at minichairgallery@bellsouth.net. Museum visitors are always amazed at the variety of chairs and the creativity with the different displays. It is something “you must see it to believe it.” ?



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More Images:

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This miniature chair holds a planter.
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A replica of an 18th century caned seat chair holds a glass inkwell.
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This chair is also a clock and a sculpture.
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Reminiscent of bottle whimsies, these miniature chairs are inside glass bottles.
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This miniature chair made from horseshoes hold salt and pepper shakers and napkins.

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