My VIN­TAGE world

Jonathon Holder of Welsh Ver­nac­u­lar An­tiques shares his love for prim­i­tive fur­ni­ture

Period Living - - News -

What de­fines Welsh ver­nac­u­lar style?

The term sim­ply means some­thing that has been made by lo­cal crafts­men us­ing lo­cal ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques typ­i­cal of the re­gion. The de­sign brief of ‘func­tion first’ re­sulted in hum­ble, prac­ti­cal pieces with beau­ti­ful sim­plic­ity. That said, the

idio­syn­cra­sies and tra­di­tions of each area has lead to great de­sign vari­a­tion. Strong ta­bles of oak and elm, stick chairs of ash, and dairy fur­ni­ture of sy­camore are par­tic­u­larly sought af­ter.

What ap­peals to you about the genre?

I love the fact that they were ev­ery­day items used by our Welsh an­ces­tors. My wife Yvonne and I moved into our late 18th-cen­tury Welsh cot­tage when we were just 18 and be­came fas­ci­nated with its his­tory and how it might have been fur­nished. We vis­ited mu­se­ums and talked with lo­cal his­to­ri­ans, and from there started col­lect­ing orig­i­nal pieces. As a young ap­pren­tice at the time, our first pur­chases were mod­est, but as our bud­get grew we fell in love with stick chairs and prim­i­tive de­signs. By that time I was a trained Welsh harp maker with the skills to bring tired pieces back to life.

What tips do you have for col­lect­ing?

The best place to buy is from a spe­cial­ist dealer. Of­ten there are hid­den restora­tion costs when buy­ing from an on­line auc­tion. Smaller stick chairs start at around £800, with older and more rare pieces, such as the comb back, fetch­ing up to £6,000. A sim­ple stool can be as lit­tle as £70 – a great way to start.

From left: Welsh Ver­nac­u­lar An­tiques co-own­ers Jonathon and Yvonne; prim­i­tive 19th-cen­tury hoop back chair with sy­camore seat; the show­room in Ceredi­gion; a rare Cardi­gan­shire prim­i­tive oak stick chair with thick slab seat and sin­gle piece yolk arm

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