Now another, very different, high chair has come to light. Searching invaluable.com some time ago, I came across this description of a chair sold ten years ago (2004) in Cirencester:
A 19th century ash and beech child's high chair, the back with three turned spindles flanked by turned arms on turned supports to the single panel seat on turned legs with footboard united by stretchers by Phillip Clissett, bears “P C” stamps to tops of uprights.
Initial email approaches to the auction house didn't get a response. Later, a phone call was more promising, with a helpful offer to contact the buyer on my behalf. A couple of weeks later, I was delighted to get a phone call from the buyer, though my heart sank as he explained that he was a dealer. I assumed he would have sold the chair by know but, as luck would have it, he has a collection of children's chairs and had kept the Clissett – I was welcome to examine it.
The chair is pretty much as described by the auctioneers, though it appears to be ash with an elm seat. Like the most recently discovered high chair, it's a mix of Clissett's usual design elements. He seems to have made an adaptation of one of his simpler spindleback chairs, without the usual separate top rail, and the addition of a footrest and arms.
It's the arms that make this chair interesting. Firstly, the front supports are a miniature version of the tapered support seen in Clissett's famous ladderback armchairs. Secondly, the arms themselves are turned – the only example of a turned arm that I'm aware of in Clissett's entire oeuvre.
There's no way of knowing whether these children's chairs were part of Clissett's day-to-day production. But the fact that two out of three of the surviving chairs have unusual mixes of his design elements suggests that they may have been made to order, perhaps with the customer deciding on the elements they wanted. To see all the known children's chairs made by Clissett, check out the "Special chairs" page.
It's a great pity that we have no way of establishing when these high chairs were made, as it would help answer questions about the origins of the design of the famous Clissett ladderback chairs.
I'm very grateful to Ray & Liz Hunaban of Miscellany Antiques, Malvern, for their kindness in allowing me to examine and photograph their chair. Also to Moore, Allen & Innocent of Cirencester for their help in tracking down this chair.