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An Exceptionally Fine Carved Lyre Mahogany Window Seat, New York, Earnest Hagen, c.1885


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As Peter Kenny, curator of American Furniture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, talks about in his recent book on Duncan Phyfe: without Hagen, we wouldn't know of Phyfe and his work.  It seems Hagen bought Phyfe's tools, etc. and continued to make Phyfe style furniture for the boutique clients in New York that already had Phyfe material and wanted to add to or repair.   No doubt, Hagen was a master.   Take a good look at the close-up of the carving on the crest rail...it doesn't get better.   In fact, one has to turn it over and carefully investigate to see it's not the work of Phyfe. 

What makes this window seat particularly interesting is the letter from Phyfe's son discussing this chair as a potential purchase for a client of his, and illustrated it with a picture.   We have the original letter, which will accompany this piece. This letter, from Hagen's son, who was also a furniture maker, gives this piece historical significance, and shows its historical context.  We acquired a pair of card tables by Hagen's son from the same source as this seat, which also have additional communication to his client.  See item #sw01684.

Phyfe window seats come on the market from time to time, but one with lyres is especially desirable, and one with carved crests such as these is over the top.  It's the best of the best and in perfect condition.   We have French polished and reupholstered the slip-in seat.

The letter from Hagen's son accompanies this piece: 
Sunday – March 19, 1931
Mr.  Lee McCanluis –
                                    15 Broad –

            Dear Mr. McCanluis

            Have just got on track of a Duncan Phyfe Window Seat but with Lyre back in place of the Medallion made in our shop by my father about 45 years ago.  

A beautiful specimen in good condition ---- old phyfe pieces of this type are very rare and bring most any price – think I can sell it for about 250 not over – would not care about making a reproduction (like this for less than 550.  You cannot afford to loose it -   If you want it – Please let me know at once—by mail—as I may not be in to get phone messages.  Have the option on it for another day and must act quick.

Mark envelope – E. L. Hagen / 213 East 26 / New York /  > Store <
As some times they are found in house letter boxes.

Sincerely,
E. L. Hagen
213 East 26

[over]
Page two contains a rough pencil sketch of the window seat surrounded by the following notes:
wheat & bow & knot carving
upholstered seat, no cane
seat on frame lifts out.

full length over all – 45 inches
rest regular chair height
same as the medalion backs
& others in office

Leaved Lyre & outline as Plate V   D. Phyfe book, page 15
only Lyre in place of medalion back
Length: 45 in.
Width: 14 1/2 in.
Height: 32 1/2 in.
Seat Height: 19 1/2 in.
$34,000
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