A fine painting on the back of leather chair
  • Steel furniture with an artist’s touch
  • Antique armchairs with a religious flair
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    Auction Finds

    A set of eagles that got everyone’s attention

    The wooden eagles had been placed almost in our paths, but to the right and up a step. The pair of massively oversized birds were certainly a show-stopper, even if one was missing the tip of its beak.

    That was understandable: one, because they were gigantic, and two, because our own Eagles had soured to the Super Bowl. On first glance, they appeared to just be a pair of carved birds, and that’s what most of us auction-goers thought.

    “That’s what I want,” one man remarked to a friend, as he stopped in front of the big birds.

    “You got to have room for it,” another man, arriving later, said to his friend.

    A pair of carved wooden eagles at auction. One is missing the tip of its beak.

    A pair of carved wooden eagles at auction. One is missing the tip of its beak.

    We were in awe of them. They were so big! Then each of us individually walked around to their backside, expecting to see even more heft.

    And we were all surprised.

    That’s when we saw that they were more than just menacing-looking birds. They were chairs. The back sections of the birds had been dug out and carved for sitting.

    And the chairs were popular: There were several stickers on them, all representing absentee bidders itching to take them home. That didn’t even include the folks who would be bidding from the auction-house floor.

    The backside of the giant wooden eagles showed that they were chairs.

    The backsides of the giant wooden eagles showed that they were chairs.

    Each of them, I’m sure, wanted those chairs to impress their friends at Sunday’s Super Bowl party when the Eagles take on the Patriots. Imagine sitting in one of them and watching the game. Getting them home, though, would be a monumental task, because they looked to weigh a ton.

    The auction house had described them as “Federal Eagle carved arm chairs.” It was referring not to the Federal style of furniture, but to its use of carved eagles in its design. Federal style furniture is a lot more elegant than these chairs. That type of furniture belongs in the living room; these birds, in a man cave or rec room.

    Miniature versions of the bald eagle turned up on furniture in this country during the Federal period right after the Revolutionary War. Although Americans were still into European furniture styles, they were also creating their own – the Federal style.

    One auction-goer placed his Eagles cap on the head of one of the birds so his friend could take a photo.

    One auction-goer placed his Eagles cap on the head of one of the birds so his friend could take a photo.

    The furniture was characterized by simple lines, clean tapered legs, veneers and inlays (such as eagles, symbolizing the new country). It was said to have lasted from the late 18th to early 19th centuries.

    I wasn’t around when the eagles sold at auction, but I’m sure they didn’t go for cheap.

    A side view of the wooden eagles.

    A side view of the wooden eagles.

     

    An up-close view of one of the menacing-looking birds.

    An up-close view of one of the menacing-looking birds.

     

    The carved tail wings of the wooden eagle chairs.

    The carved tail wings of the wooden eagle chairs.

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