The tradition of making turned chairs was brought to this country by the earlest Euroopean colonists. Although the character of such chairs changed over time--seventeenth-century chairs have heavier turnings, while nineteenth-century ones have lighter turnings--the turned chair has been in continual use in this country for three hundred years.
Chairs such as this example were the products of turners. The various elements of these chairs were produced in great quantity and allowed to season for specific lengths of time before assembly. The slightly warped profile of this chair's posts indicates that they were turned while the wood was still green. The technique insured tight joints since the posts shrank around the slats and stretchers as they dried.
By streamlining production and stockpiling parts until they were needed, turners were able to produce slat-back chairs cheaply in large numbers. Slat-back chairs were priced according to the number of slats in the back..More expensive chairs had more slats.
As indicated by numerous surviving examples, turned slat-back chairs found wide acceptance among New England's middle class. Similar examples are distributed throughout eastern New England. The affinity of these chairs turnings and their wide distribution suggest that slat-back chairs, like the more sophisticated "Boston" leather chairs, may represent the work of several Boston-area shops which exported large numbers of chairs.