H: 36.5”: W: 18.75”; D: 18.5”
Mixed woods: poplar seat; hickory spindles and crest; maple legs (visual analysis).
Labeled for Andrew (d. 1805) and Robert (d. 1823) McKim
Richmond was one of the few southern cities that supported a Windsor chair industry, and the McKim brothers were among a small number of turners and chairmakers who plied their trade successfully in the region.
While Windsor chairs with similar turnings and proportions are reasonably attributed to the McKims, labeled examples are extremely rare. This pair was originally of a matched group of three found in an attic in Williamsburg; each bearing label fragments. One of the pair has approximately 50% of its label remaining, the second approximately 15% but both with sufficient surviving surface to allow a positive identification.
Within a guilloche border, the original label in full read:
ANDREW & ROBt McKim
Makes every kind of
In the neatest and best manner, in their
Chair Shop near the Post Office
This is one of the McKim brothers’ early labels, and these bow back chairs with plain spindles are one of the earliest styles the McKims produced. Later models generally included bamboo turnings. The profiles of the McKim’s legs and spindles, and construction features closely resembled Philadelphia examples. Windsors were a form of inexpensive seating and they were shipped from Philadelphia by the thousands to southern ports and distributed inland. Likely starting their careers as turners, the McKims branched out to compete with these imports by manufacturing their own. Along with bow-back back side chairs such as these examples, the McKims are known to have produced fan-back and writing arm chairs.
They appear to have been successful because by 1797 they had enough capital to build a large brick tenement adjacent to their chair shop. After Andrew’s death in 1802, Robert continued to produce Windsor furniture until his death in 1823, though no documented examples have been identified.
Examples of McKim Windsor chairs can be found in the collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection. An example is illustrated in Burroughs’ Sourthern Antiques (Plate XII).