Q: I have a very unique rocking chair that I purchased two years ago in Norton, Ohio. The woman who sold it to me said it was her great-grandmother’s. It had no rockers on it when I got it because they were either broken off or sawed off. I replaced those and refinished the chair. I want to sell the chair but I’m not sure what to ask. One collector told me this is a common chair but I don’t believe so. I’ve not seen another with a dragon pattern on the headrest like this one. I also sent photos to a well-known restoration guy in Maine and he said he’s not seen anything like it. Can you give me any clues as to its origin?
A: Pressed-back chairs were first made about 1880. The design was etched onto a metal die, which was attached to a roller. Steam, heat, and pressure were used to stamp the design into the wood. Pressed-back chairs could be mass-produced and were much less expensive than chairs with hand-carved designs. If you do a search on pressed-back chairs, you will find other with dragons, though not identical to yours. Pressed back rockers aren’t rare. With replaced parts, they sell for under $150.