19800070023-7 hayes

A rare double chair attributed to Shadrach Mace. Courtesy Mountain Heritage Center, Western Carolina University.

The Mace family of western North Carolina became famous for their comfortable chairs, called “settin’ cheers.” Beginning after the Civil War, several generations of Maces made functional, curved-back chairs. As durable ash and hickory wood became scarcer, they turned increasingly to maple, cherry, oak, and walnut. They never used glue, instead inserting dried slats and posts into holes in uncured wood that, when shrunk, created tight joints. The curved pieces were made by boiling wood in water and then bending it. They rarely applied finishes to their chairs. Initially selling their chairs around Asheville, by the 1920s the Maces were shipping them around the country. Birdie, the last Mace family chairmaker, died in 1973. Mace chairs are highly-prized by collectors.