Antiques Appraisal: Usability is key in Harris Brothers chair value

Dr. George Marchelos performs a appraisal of a chair made by the Harris Brothers Furniture Co., East Liberty, Pennsylvania.
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Inquiry

I was referred to you by a historical society. I am just curious on the history and possible value of this chair. I have a 1961 chair in great condition. I’m wondering what it’s worth. 

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It was designed and custom built for Harris Bros. in East Liberty Pittsburgh. The tag says: 6830-3 S Chair HAZEL Classic Nylon Gold with original do not remove tag with a department of labor and industry stamp on it.

— S.B., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Appraisal

S.B. asked about a chair he owns made by the Harris Brothers Furniture Co., East Liberty, Pennsylvania. The chair was actually made for Harris Brothers Furniture by the Grand Rapids Upholstery Co., Michigan. It was probably made through their subsidiary Gallery Crafts. This company operated from 1906 until 1979. During this time they made fine furniture, especially pieces with some leather.

This particular chair was made to order using a design of Harris Brothers based partly on Chippendale, such as the dwarf cabriole legs and partly on mid 1800s designs such as the modified balloon back with tufts. The chair appears to be in excellent condition including the brass tacks and gold nylon fabric.

During this time, in the 1960s, it was fairly common for furniture companies throughout the United States to have special items or design such as this chair available for special orders. Most came with a matching foot stool.

The address label is unusual because the postal code zones from the 1940s and 1950s are still shown although this chair was ordered as a specialty item in late 1961. That would indicate an order availability of this or similar items from Grand Rapids Upholstery Co.

The chair is not yet an antique and would be classified as a collectible in the furniture category. Price would be based upon interest in any given area. But the chair, because of its appeal and condition, should bring several hundred dollars. Someone seeking an accent piece in a particular room would find it appealing. 

Subject of interest: How to decipher furniture labels

A closer look at the Harris Brothers chair

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