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Ladderback Chair

Poynor, Richard “Dick”
Place Made:
Williamson County Tennessee United States of America
Date Made:
maple –oak –paint
HOA 36-11/16″; WOA 18-1/4″; DOA 14-1/4″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Ladderback side chair made by Richard “Dick” Poynor. Known as the rosewood-grained, yellow-striped “fancy chair.” The chair has a simple design with its mule-eared back posts secured with a wooden peg in the top slat; the joinery is mortise and tenon. Having three back slats with slightly arched tops and straight bottoms; outlined with yellow paint. The back posts have a decoratively flat front, which is outlined with yellow paint; also having two decorative “X” shaped patterns on each post and two vertical lines at the top of the post on each. The front posts extend out past the seat with yellow paint decoration of horizontal lines and vertical lines; having tapered front feet. Having seven simply turned stretchers; the front, top stretcher has painted yellow decoration. The seat is a tightly woven split oak seat, painted. The primary wood is maple.

MAKER: Born a slave in Halifax County, Virginia, Richard “Dick” Poynor (1802-1882) was likely taught turning and joinery skills by his master Robert Poynor, a craftsman whose estate inventory included various tools, including chairmaking tools. Dick purchased his freedom sometime between 1850 and 1860, settling in Williamson County, Tennessee, where he operated a chair factory along with the assistance of his son James Poynor (1833-1893).

According to the donor, this Dick Poynor chair is originally from the Leiper’s Fork Church of Christ, Williamson County, TN. It was sold by the church to raise money for new pews. Before 1871, Dick Poynor was a member of the church, shared with the Leiper’s Fork Primitive Baptist Church.
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. Richard H. Warwick.