When I hear the name Hitchcock I generally think of Alfred Hitchcock, writer and producer of scary movies. So it was easy for me to believe that Alfred Hitchcock could have been the maker of an electric chair, but "Hitchcock chairs" were actually made by Lambert Hitchcock,
On a side note, did you know Alfred Hitchcock was scared of his own movies?
Alfred Hitchcock, the author and director, known as the Master of Suspense, arrived on the scene August 13, 1899. As a child, Hitchcock was sent to the local police station with a letter from his father. The desk sergeant read the letter and immediately locked the boy up for ten minutes. After that, the sergeant let young Alfred go, explaining, "This is what happens to people who do bad things." Hitchcock had a morbid fear of police from that day on. He also cited this phobia as the reason he never learned to drive (as a person who doesn't drive can never be pulled over and given a ticket). It was also cited as the reason for the recurring "wrong man" themes in his films. Mr. Alfred Hitchcock left us on April 29, 1980. Do you think Mr. Alfred Hitchcock may have sat in a chair made by Mr. Lambert Hitchcock? I guess we'll never know!
Now, back to the chair! :)
The Hitchcock chair was an early example of mass production. The frames are generally of birch, oak, or maple. The backs have a curved top with a broad gentle curved back-slat, then a broad slat that usually has a design such as; leaves, flowers, baskets of fruit or cornucopias. Below this, is a narrow crosspiece, connected to the sides, that is a continuation of the leg. The front legs and the stretcher between are nicely turned in spools, rings, or vase shapes. The seats are wider at the front and graduate back with straight sides and rolled or rounded edges in front. The front legs of some of the chairs have a ball on the bottom.
There are several types of back slats; “turtle-back,” “cut-out back slat,” - a curved back with spindles, “the pillow back”, eagles, cornucopias, plain, button back, and a crested back. The rarest of the back slats are the eagles, cornucopias, and the scrolls. About 1845, the “vase back” chair or “Urn chair” chair became popular. The wide vertical middle slat was shaped like an urn or vase. It was sometimes called “Fiddleback.” The top slats are called crest rails which are referred to as; “crown top,” “crest top,” or “pillow top.”
In the beginning the chairs resembled rosewood, because the first coat of red paint, applied by children, showed through the black, also used were the colors white and green. Later a lemon-yellow color and brown were used as a background colors. Seats were first made of rush, then cane, and then plank. They were usually painted black, brownish-black or dark green. They have yellow ochre pin striping with gold half-rings on the front legs. The stencils were painted with metallic colors like red, gold, blue and white. The designs can be found on the back and sides of the chairs.
They were marked on the back with stencil “L. Hitchcock, Hitchcocksville, Connecticut, Warranted” all in one line. Hitchcocksville would have been used when the furniture was manufactured in Boston, Massachusetts. Hitchcock chose his woods with care and allowed none to be used with knots or other imperfections. Later marks were “Hitchcock, Alford & Co. Hitchcocks-ville Conn. Warranted,” and “L. Hitchcock, Unionville. Conn. Warranted.”
The height of the Hitchcock chair sales was in the 1920’s and 30’s. The earliest signature is dated from 1820 to 1832. From 1832 to 1843 the signature read “HITCHCOCK, ALFORD& Cl HITCHCOCKSVILLE, CONN WARRANTED” and from 1843 to 1852 the signature read “L.HITCHCOCK.UNIONVILLE,CONN. WARRANTED.” In the second variation of the stencils, many of the chairs have two backwards “N’s” in the word “CONN.” This is thought to have occurred because many of the laborers who worked on the chairs were illiterate. If the “N” is written backwards, your Hitchcock chair is not an original but a replica made after 1946.
These chairs are identified as “New Hampshire Hitchcock,” or “Sheraton Hitchcock” chairs. Hitchcock is best known for their “Boston Rocker.”
The Hitchcock chair was began in 1818 by Mr. Lambert Hitchcock of Barkhamsted, Connecticut. He established a cabinet and chair factory. He began by making parts that could be assembled later for the chair industry of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1825 he began making complete chairs. Mr. Hitchcock was born in Chesshire, Connecticut on June 28, 1795 and was the son of Revolutionary soldier John Lee Hitchcock. He came to rest in 1852.
We received a call one day from a gentleman wanting to sell us a chair. We asked to see the chair before we purchased it, so he brought it to us and while it was in the store a vendor came in and said, “Oh, you have a Hitchcock chair!” After some research and dickering, the chair now resides at Grandma’s Attic. Come and check it out and let us know if you believe it is a real Hitchcock chair.
-The GA Gang