Canespotting: Mark Twain’s Chair

In the show, Mark Twain is actually sitting in the cane chair.

While being laid out with the flu, Dave and I watched a Ken Burns special about Mark Twain.  We see cane chairs and designs in almost every show we watch including Dr. Who, Sons of Anarchy, Downton Abbey, a Mt. Everest documentary, and numerous nerdy biographies on PBS.  Here is a chair we were really excited to see despite basically wanting to die of flu.

One of the things I love most about chair caning is hearing people’s chair stories.  These chairs hold so much history and often I hear about this history of my clients chairs before finding out what type of chair it is and what needs fixing.

what you’d see today in the cabin

Mark Twain’s Writing Cabin

Mark Twain’s “sister-in-law Susan Crane had a windowed study built specially for Twain in 1874 not far from her Victorian farmhouse. Equipped with a writing table, wicker chair, cot, fireplace and cat door, it was designed to resemble the pilot house of a Mississippi steamboat.”  The cabin was in upstate New York where he would sit for hours writing some of his most famous books.  “Here, he wrote virtually all of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn— novels that heralded him as an early icon of distinctly American literature.”   The cabin now resides on the campus of  Elmira College.

Go Chair Repair, Twain Style

What a cool chair!  And probably a pain in the arse to fix with the curve in the back.  This is a laced cane chair that you weave strand by strand.  You have to weave behind the cane you lay down first which adds an element of difficulty.  The tapered edges also make you think a little harder when laying down the strands.  The bell shaped seat is also something you wouldn’t want to try as a beginner. I have repaired a chair similar to this but it was machine woven cane.

At Stormfield, Redding, CT, 1908 Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford


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