About Herb Lapp
"My initial goal of using this work to become a better Windsor chairmaker worked and to get a picture of the handiwork skill varaition between different chairmakers was achieved. Several new goals emerged so the work of measuring so many chairs went from being a reflection of my compulsion driven personality and catharsis of being downsized at age 58 (I do have serious compulsive aspects to my personality) to having a real basis in research. I was now seeing things that Evans and Santore were unable to see in their monumental-overview studies. I plan an article about the model and the findings and conclusions I am making with it. That's enough on that. I suspect the model will play a supportive role in whatever Windsor chair articles I do once the work is published. Periodically I'll add other threads to this one as I have time as there are several other efforts I have underway all stimulated by this effort. I wanted a forum to describe my unusual and humble beginnings and explain that I'm not completely crazy, just a little. Through it all I have studied Windsor chairs at several wonderful facilities and institutions like: the Reading Public Museum; the 1728 John Bartram House and Gardens; Independence Hall; the Betsy Ross House; and Carpenters' Hall; the Camden, Chester, Germantown, Lancaster and York Historical Societies; in Germantown - Benj. Chew's family summer home at Cliveden, the Deshler-Morris House (first White House), the Wister family's summer house at Grumblethorpe, James Logan's house at Stenton and the Wistar-Haines' family summer home at Wyck; Haddonfield Friends School in Haddonfield, NJ where I found two branded William Cox chairs and one unbranded Henzey bow-back armchir under 2" of dust in their attic (they were slated to be sold in a flea market along with 15 other 19th century chairs!). Getting permission to closely study important, old artifacts is no easy task. So please don't expect to walk in off the street and say hi to a curator and ask I'd like to touch and measure your Windsor chairs. It doesn't work that way. I'll broach that subject later. That's enough for now....enjoy Windsor chairs."
Conduct Windsor chair research to identify chairmaker characteristics and techniques, find and identify the old chairmakers and continue developing my chairmaking skills.
Oct 2001 Windsor Institute, Hampden, NH
Completed sack-back chairmaking class studying under Windsor chairmaster Michael Dunbar.
May 2003 Windsor Institute, Hampden, NH
Completed Nantucket fan-back chairmaking class.
June 2005 Philadelphia Windsor Chair Shop, Earlville, Oley Valley, PA
Completed master class tutorial with chairmaster Jim Rendi.
10/01 – Windsor chairs I made:
Sack Back – adult, child and writing arm
Miniature & adult Bow Backs with & without braces
Nantucket Fan Back
Fan-Back side chairs with and without braces
Windsor youth chair
Philadelphia Comb Back
Philadelphia Low Back
Continuous-arm chairs with & without braces
Reproduced & donated chairs made from examples owned the 1728 John Bartram Association, Reading Public Museum and the Lemon Hill Mansion to the Colonial Dames of America.
Restored 19th century manufactured Bow Back with arms
Restored 1820 child’s Windsor High Chair
Restored 1875 family heirloom rocker
Made commissioned reproduction of Henzey sack-back chair for the Carpenters’ Company Managing Committee
Completed Windsor chair commissions for other private individuals.
Windsor Chairs Photographed & Studied
Photographed over 400 - 18th and early 19th century Windsor chairs as seen through the eyes of a Windsor chairmaker. My 10,000 archived images were taken at the following locations:
Milwaukee Art Museum
Independence Hall, Phila.
Carpenters’ Hall, Phila.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Valley Forge National Historical Park, King of Prussia, PA
Hopewell Furnace Historical Site, Elverson, PA
Rhode Island Institute of Design, Providence, RI
Morristown National Historical Park (Washington’s 1778 – 1779 Winter Encampment), Morristown, NJ
Pook and Pook Auctions, Downingtown, PA
Haddonfield Friends Meeting & School, Haddonfield, NJ
The 1728 John Bartram House, Phila.
Stenton, James Logan’s Mansion, Germantown, PA
Wyck, Wistar family summer residence, Germantown, PA
Cliveden, Germantown, PA
Betsy Ross House, Phila.
York County Heritage Museum, York, PA
PA State Museum, Harrisburg, PA
Hunter Mansion, Harrisburg, PA
Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA
Yale Gallery of Art, New Haven, CT
Berks County Historical Society, Reading, PA
Laurel and Lemon Hills Mansions, Fairmount Park, Phila.
Mid – Atlantic Antiques and Auctions, Newark, DE
Reading Public Museum, Reading, PA
Whitall House, Red Bank Battle Field, Red Bank, NJ
William Brinton 1704 House, Delaware County, PA
York County Historical Society
Lancaster Heritage Museum, Lancaster, PA
Dr. Thomas Bond House, Phila.
2005 Oley Valley Antiques Show
Knaurer’s Mills Antiques, West Coventry, PA
Merritt’s Antiques, Douglasville, PA
Germantown Historical Society
Camden County Historical Society, Camden, NJ
John Cope 1723 House, Downingtown, PA
Daniel Boone Homestead, Exeter, PA
Chairs from private collections.
Windsor Chair Valuation
Since October 2004, I have comprehensively studied the Windsor chairs auctioned by seven well-known auction houses to document estimated chair valuations prior & post sale. Developed comprehensive data archive of sale results.
Completed detailed chair measurements of 100 - 18th century chairs including branded chairs made by F. Trumble, T. Gilpin, Joseph Henzey, John Letchworth, E. B. Tracey, Wm. McElroy and Wm. Cox. In this initiative :
Measured and reproduced an 18th-century Lancaster County sack-back chair in the collection of the Reading Public Museum. I donated this chair to them that was auctioned at their 2005 Gala. This chair was purchased by Albert Boscov, retired-Chairman of the Boscov Department Store chain.
Discovered two Wm. Cox chairs & an unbranded Henzey bow-back armchair at Haddonfield Friends School in school’s 1797 main building attic.
Identified many second and third unbranded chairs made by the same chairmaker using my archive data studying the maker’s handiwork signatures.
Reproduced 1770 Joseph Henzey child’s sack-back chair donated to the Colonial Dames of America, who manage the Lemon Hill Fairmount Park Manison .
Consulted to the Betsy Ross House analyzing a very early comb-back chair to identify age, chairmaker, and history. Wrote 70 page report on findings.
First windsor chair researcher and chairmaker to be given unsupervised permission to photograph, study and mesure the historical Windsor chairs at the Carpenters’ Hall, Phila. Made by Henzey and used for the attendees of the First Continental Congress in Fall 1774. Published article of this work in the Spring 2007, quarterly Carpenters’ Hall newsletter.
Conducting detailed analytical study of between windsor chairs made in Philadelphia and those from Lancaster County.
Conducting research into very early Philadelphia comb-back chairs dating from 1740 to 1759.
Compiling and evaluating data from Henzey-made chairs to develop an objective model to identify unbranded chairs as being made by him for adult sacks, bow-back armchairs and child sacks.
Studied and measured more Henzey-made chairs than any other researcher along with dicovering several unbranded as being made by him.
Preparing to write journal articles and books on findings and work.
B.S. degree in Physics-math & Liberal Arts, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, 1969.
Herb Lapp (1967-69) St. Joseph's (PA) Hawks Men's Track and Field
M.A. degree in Curriculum & Instruction, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, 1976.