Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I inherited this chair from my Uncle John R Irwin whose grandfather was a millionaire, made his fortune on railroad work and hauling iron ore on the Great Lakes in the late 1800’s in PA. Uncle John called this the Chinese Emperor’s chair so I assumed it was Chinese. I know it came from the Glen Irwin mansion in Clinton and although the exact date of purchase is unknown, I was told that they bought it on one of their many trips to England.
Uncle John told me when I was young and would stand and admire the chair where he would allow me to place my dolls, “someday Patty when I am gone, I want you to have this red chair and the camel.” (The camel is another marvelous piece which is on our mantel.) He had determined this because I so admired the chair and he said, “Red is good luck! It has been in the Irwin family since forever, I’d like to see all their faces when it is no longer part of the Irwin’s!” This was usually followed by his tale of “I’ll outlive them all!” And the truth was he did! John wasn’t treated kindly by the last surviving Irwin, his mother, Jessie who lived in the big house across the road. She often told John that she would leave him nothing in her will unless he would give up his drinking; she was a tea totaled and could not understand how my Aunt Virginia could put up with him!
I thought this red chair was one of the most magnificent things I had ever seen. I still feel that way about it as does Jerry. By the way red is considered good fengshui to have in the home! I prepared to become its owner by researching carefully for years, looking in every museum I visited. I never found anything like it. Arrival of the internet was not much more help but I carefully looked at websites and any auction with antique Chinese furniture.