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The Best Seats In The House

April 26, 1998

Chairs, like people, have personalities. And old ones have fascinating tales. Here, eight Southern California antiques dealers tell the stories behind the chairs they'll exhibit at the third Los Angeles Antiques Show Friday through Sunday at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar.

Top: Mid-18th century mahogany and leather chair with collapsible table, $7,500

"In the 18th century, when cockfighting wasn't politically incorrect, an English country squire might have watched from this chair with a warm ale on the table. This is an unusually early example of this type of chair."

Ronnie Barokh, R.M. Barokh Antiques, Los Angeles

Bottom: American Victorian Rococo Revival cast-iron garden chair, $1,600 for a pair

"Chairs that looked as if they'd been squeezed from a pastry tube were one of the first things to be mass-produced in the foundries of the East Coast. You're looking at 100-plus pounds of whimsy."

Tom Stansbury, Tom Stansbury Antiques, Newport Beach

18th century ash and elm comb-back Windsor armchair, $2,475

"Windsors are extremely comfortable because their seats were scooped out with an adze so they would fit your bottom. It's not just flat. This one, with its overscale seat, probably belonged to a portly upper-middle-class English merchant."

Bruce Graney, Bruce Graney & Co., Pasadena

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18th century Swedish Queen Anne birch corner chair with gros point seat, $5,500

"The English tended to use darker mahogany or walnut, but light-colored birch was more typical in Sweden. This chair has a wonderful patina."

Nina Schwimmer, Nina Schwimmer Antiques, Los Angeles

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18th century miniature Louis XVI mahogany fauteuil by Louis Delanois with original silk upholstery, $20,000

"So often when a chair is scaled down to small size, the proportions are lost. But if you saw this one in a photograph without something to give you a sense of scale, you would assume it was a full-size piece."

Sally Gould Wright, Richard Gould Antiques, Los Angeles

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French Louis XIII high-backed oak child's chair with gros point upholstery, $2,700

"Once owned by a descendant of the family that published the Saturday Evening Post, this chair is small but carries quite a punch."

Jim Evans, Evans & Gerst Antiques, Los Angeles

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18th century Venetian Rococo painted and parcel gilt armchair, $28,000

"We covered the chair in a cream and cranberry striped taffeta, but Rose Cummings [the flamboyant mid-century doyenne of New York design] would have probably upholstered it in amethyst satin. She had a passion for purple."

Philip M. Stites, Therien & Co.,

Los Angeles

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Early Ching dynasty Chinese armchair of huang hua li wood with Taiwan matting seat and splat, $6,500

"It's quite comfortable; there's even a bottom rung to rest your feet on. The wood is so hard that it's practically indestructible. It was probably used by a Chinese scholar."

Julia Kleiman Cohen, The Gallery, Palos Verdes Estates

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The antiques show is organized by the Antiques Dealers Assn. of Califonia and benefits the Women's Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. For more information, call (310) 855-3667.

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Produced by Barbara Thornburg

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Hair and makeup: Amy Holiber; set design: George Gargagliano

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