Marketing Chairs in 1825

The Windsor Institute has always helped its students who have gone pro with marketing advice. Although the marketing attempt below is unique, it is not one we would advise. That it dates from 1825 makes it even more interesting.

The text is an advertisement printed in the New York National Advocate in the September 14 issue by A. D. Montanye, whose shop was located at 13 Bowery. The Institute recently added a copy of the newspaper to its collection.

Usually old chairmaker ads include a crude illustration of a chair accompanied by a brief, very stilted text. In fact, The Institute also owns another copy of the National Advocate dated July 23 of the same year. In this issue Montanye had also placed a more typical chairmaker ad. This ad measured only one column inch (2” wide by 1” deep.) The perfunctory text reads “Orders executed with punctuality and dispatch, and on reasonable terms — Old Chairs repaired and painted. Copal Varnish of all kinds for sale.”

Perhaps the July ad did not work and Montanye decided to try a new tact a couple of months later. His second advertisement is unusual in that it is a single column of text, six inches long. As it appears on the page it looks more like a news article than an advertisement. However, it reads more like a television infomercial than a typical old chairmaker advertisement.

FANCY and WINDSOR CHAIRS

There is something in a good Windsor Chair which has a most delicious effect on the mind and the imagination, as well as on the legs and the ribs. When a man has been harrassed (sic) with business for the space of six long hours, how renovating it is to come home and throw yourself into a Windsor Chair, and tell your wife to fill a glass with Racy’s ale. Your tired haunches recline with the most pleasing sensation on the bottom, and your aching ribs find a restorative in the perpendicularity of the back. In the joy of your heart, you say, Heaven bless the chair inventor, and may the chair-maker Montanye prosper forever.

“Again, suppose you invite a small party to your house, and see the pretty wives of your friends dropping by one by one into your rooms. A dozen of Fancy Chairs, or a dozen & a half of imitation Rose Wood ditto, bought at No. 13 Bowery, will set off your room to every advantage, and make your lovely visitors smirk and smile like so many Hebes “Oh! they are pretty,” one will say. “Oh! what delicious rose wood chairs!” another will utter. “Pray, Mr. Timothy,” asks a third, “where in the whole city did you buy those beautiful Windsor Chairs?” “And this Fancy Settee” asks a fourth? “Heaven shower its blessings down upon you, my dears,” then you must reply, “of whom else but of Montanye’s No. 13 Bowery.”

‘Tis sweet to set on (sic) Windsor Chair,
Beside the modest blushing fair,
Or in her eyes pure feeling see,
While lolling on the Rose Settee,

But again there are many worthy men and women, who contract an affection and friendship for old chairs. To such persons who admit this honorable emotion into their bosoms it must be a great satisfaction to know where such good old friends can be repaired, painted, or copal varnished anew. A good man would not see an old chair cast aside because it has lost a leg, or perhaps got defaced from long use. He would certainly apply to those men of art (of whom Montanye is one) who puts new legs into old friends with despatch (sic) and punctuality, and who make the withered settee, come forth from their shops as beautiful as a bride of fifty issues from the parson’s on her wedding day.

All those persons, therefore, who may want any windsor, (sic) imitation rose wood chairs, windsor and fancy settee, copal varnish of all kinds, or old chairs repaired and painted, will please call on

A. D. MONTANYE
No. 13 Bowery

We were unable to find Montayne listed in Nancy Goyne Evans’ landmark book American Windsor Chairs. We emailed her and received this reply. “You are in luck! I do have a little something on Abraham D. Montayne. He is not on my Windsor list because I never determined that he actually made Windsor chairs in his shop in addition to other vernacular types. He is listed in NYC directories as a chairmaker from 1820 to 1826 and 1832 to 1840+. A George F. Montayne also is listed in 1836-37.

“When I was doing my “basic” work on Windsor chairmaking, I scanned all American city directories through 1840 for names of chairmakers. Those names I could not identify with Windsor-chair making I relegated to three notebooks titled Chairmakers. From time to time I am able to transfer a name to the Windsor list.”

It appears Montanye can now rightfully be added to the list of known Windsor chairmakers. By the way, the Hebe Montanye refers to was the Greek goddess of beauty and youth.

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