PIONEERS AND IMMIGRANTS
Chair

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Record 230/261
Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Description A centripetal spring armchair with framework of black painted cast metal with gold highlights. Base has four ornamental bracket feet mounted on casters. Secured to a center bottom piece are eight elliptical springs The springs are connected to another center piece which holds the seat of the chair on a vertical pin. This allows the chair-seat to revolve and rock. Green mohair fabric covers seat and back while arms, headrest and bottom edging covered in red mohair. Chair reupholstered to all red mohair circa 1913; reupholstered again in 1997 after being damaged in 1994 museum fire (replacement green and red mohair on seat and armrests); samples of original materials removed and saved during 1997 restoration determined new colors: green mohair found under red mohair on headrest; original green mohair; tacks from arms; tacks from headrest.

Used by first governors of Wisconsin: Nelson Dewey (1848), Leonard J. Farwell (1852), William A. Barstow (1854) and Coles Bashford (1857). Documentation of chair history recorded in several sworn affidavits. Filed on February 25, 1937 by A. N. Crosby: This chair was given many years ago to Mr. J. J. Moore, a well known citizen of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, by ex-Governor Bashford. Prior to the gift of this chair it was used by the first governors of Wisconsin as the governor's chair including Mr. Bashford while he was governor of the state of Wisconsin. Later it was brought home by Mr. Bashford to Oshkosh, when new furniture was procured in Madison. Mr. and Mrs. Moore kept this chair for a number of years and gave to me as a gift if I would recover the chair and preserve it, which I did. ... ; Filed on May 7, 1937 by Arthur N. Crosby: ...resides at 173 Wisconsin Avenue, in the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and is sixty nine years of age; that in the year 1906 deponent went to live at the J. J. Moore home, No. 149 High street, in the said city of Oshkosh, and lived there until 1918; that the chair...was in the J. J. Moore home at the time deponent went to live there; that J. J. Moore informed deponent that said chair was given to him by the Hon. Coles Bashford in 1858; that the said Bashford was Governor of Wisconsin from March 1856 to January 1858, and when he left the Governor's office in January 1858, new furniture had been procured, and the old chair...was taken by said Governor Bashford to his home, 240 West Algoma street in the city of Oshkosh, and thereafter given to said J. J. Moore, an old friend of the said Governor Bashford; that the said chair remained in the home of J. J. Moore until the time of his death in 1913; and thereafter Mr. Moore's widow told deponent he could have the chair if he would re-cover the upholstering; that said deponent did re-cover the upholstering, and retained the chair in his possession for several years; that the said deponent offered the said chair for sale to Mr. A. R. VanSlyke and others, and after some negotiations deponent, in the year 1922 sold the said chair to A. R. VanSlyke, residing at 215 High street, in the city of Oshkosh, an old neighbor of the said J. J. Moore, and that the said A. R. VanSlyke has had possession of the chair ever since; deponent further says, that he was informed by the said J. J. Moore that the said chair had been used by the first governor of the state of Wisconsin as a Governor's Chair, and remained the Governor's chair until new furniture was procured during the administration of Governor Coles Bashford; Filed August 19, 1937 by Fred Diacon: ...is seventy five years of age, and has resided in the city of Oshkosh, county of Winnebago and state of Wisconsin all his life, having been born the 10th day of December, 1861. Deponent further says, that in his early life, he lived about two blocks from the home of Mr. J. J. Moore, No. 149 High street, in the said city of Oshkosh, and often went over there to do errands for Mr. and Mrs. Moore; that deponent remembers when he was about fifteen years of age, and about the year 1876, he went to do some errands for Mrs. J. J. Moore, and while he was in her house, she gave deponent a cookie, and said to deponent: "I want you to sit in the first Governor's chair", and deponent sat in the chair and ate his cookie.

Chair maker documentation from "Innovative Furniture In America"; David Hawks; Horizon Press; ISBN: 0818004517: Thomas E. Warren (working 1849-1852), patent specifications identified Warren as from Troy, New York, which was a great ironmaster center; The American Chair Company, manufacturer of Warren's chair, was also know for creating reclining seats for railroad cars. The revolving spring-based chair was considered a remarkable invention for 1849. It was represented in several versions at the 1851 London Crystal Palace Exhibition. Warren patented this new method of constructing springs (Patent No. 6,740) and in 1850 would use similar spring when patenting railroad car seats (Patent No. 7,539). The spring device in Warren's chairs were invented to increase the comfort of railroad travel which was then incorporated into parlor furniture. This was also one of the earliest known American designs using a cast-iron frame for seating making it both comfortable and multifunctional. Warren also invented a sheet-iron railroad car in 1851, one of the earliest designs for passenger cars made from this material (Patent No. 10,142) and in 1853 patented a design for manufacturing "Iron Carriage Bodies for Railroads and Other Purposes."


Dimensions H-42 W-28 D-36 inches
Year Range from 1849
Year range to 1858
Made Warren, Thomas E./The American Chair Company
Material Metal/Cloth
Object ID 2159-22
Object Name Chair
People Bashford, Coles
Related Publications Oshkosh Public Museum Newsletter, Autumn 2002.
Used Nelson Dewey/Leonard J. Farwell/William A. Barstow/Coles Bashford
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION ~ For access to this image, contact scross@ci.oshkosh.wi.us

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Last modified on: December 12, 2009