Skip to main content

Ask the Experts: Uncommon Revival swivel chair may turn $1,200

Chair passed down from a cherished aunt turns out to be an uncommon Renaissance Revival chair, as identified and discussed by Dr. Anthony J Cavo, in a recent installment of the Ask the Experts column.

Q Enclosed is a photo of a chair that my 95-year-old aunt left to me at her death. I cannot find out anything about the period it’s from, what kind of chair it is or its approximate worth.

I have had an antiques dealer tell me it was a ship captain’s chair; others say a desk chair from Italy. I am totally baffled! Help please. It is lovely and in perfect condition.

— D.Y.
Beaumont, Texas

AYes, it is lovely and thank you for sharing this wonderful and unusual Renaissance Revival chair.


Based on the photograph, it appears to be a walnut Italian Renaissance Revival swivel chair circa 1860 to 1870. Renaissance revival (1850–1880) is a 19th-century interpretation of 16th and 17th century motifs and designs. Both dealers had a point in that it may be a desk chair or a captain’s chair; they are often very similar. Captain’s chairs may have three to five legs and come in many styles, as do desk chairs. The unusual tripod base with C-scroll supports feature feet that are reminiscent of the monopodium foot with a stylized paw.

The ornately carved and pierced foliate back is typical of Italian Renaissance Revival furniture. In addition to the floral elements and scrolls, high relief carving on Italian Renaissance furniture often featured animals, leaves, mythical creatures, masks and human faces.

The splayed S-scroll arms with swirl hand-holds rest on carved and beaded arm supports that are set into the chair at an angle that gives the seat a broader appearance. The leather seat, complemented by brass tacks, looks to be in good condition, as does the rest of the chair.

The chair is unusual and, comparatively speaking, I have not seen many like it and would place a value of $800 to $1,200. What a super reminder of your aunt.


Q My aunt is in possession of (in ignorance) I’ll call an old Asian pottery gravy boat. She just thinks it’s a run-of-the-mill item. I, on the other hand, have my doubts.


Can you tell me anything definitive, such as country of origin, or approximate age? The color is a beautiful iridescent greenish-purple, and there is only one impression.

— T.A.
Brentwood, N.H.

A I agree with you, this is a very interesting piece and appears to be quite old.
Unfortunately, the impressed characters on the base are not readily decipherable and should be examined in person by someone familiar with older Chinese or Japanese characters.

About our columnist:
Dr. Anthony J. Cavo is an honors graduate of the Asheford Institute Of Antiques and a graduate of Reisch College of Auctioneering. He has extensive experience in the field of buying and selling antiques and collectibles; at age 18, he became one of the youngest purchasers and consigners of antiques and art for a New York auction house. Mr. Cavo is an active dealer in the antiques and collectibles marketplace in the U.S. and abroad.

Weekly Showcase



Over 100 YEARS of Chinese History - Our pristine Jade Collection is extensive and beautiful!  Please visit our web site to get an idea of how beautiful this collection is.