In 1900, the oldest chair in America, came from a cave in the Bahamas, so brags its anonymous owner. Long forgotten ancient artefacts and priceless antiquities were taken from the Bahamas before the natives of these eras cared or even appreciated what these pieces were to the history of the islands.  Artefacts found in the caves were taken by foreign explorers or sold for shillings by poor negroes.  The oldest chair referred to in the article came from the very first civilisation to flourish in the Bahamas, the Lucayans.

Theodoor De Booy writes in the American Anthropologist journal of 1913, of the artefacts found by George G. Heye, Esquire for the Heye Museum and others. Artefacts found were either tossed about by locals or sold to the nearest white man by destitute negroes living on abandoned family islands like Acklins.

Quite possibly, one of the people mentioned in the short article in the American Anthropologist may very well be the owner of the oldest chair in America,  and writer of the article appearing in the news of America in the year 1900.

Lucayan Artifacts From The Bahamas, Theodore De Booy, American Anthropologist, January-March 1913

In 1900, an article appeared in an American newspaper.


Carved Out of One Block of Wood and Came from the Bahamas.

The oldest chair in America is carved out of a single block of wood, and in full size is about thirty inches long. The front is cut out in the shape of the “man-turtle;” the legs stand for the clumsy limbs of the animal and you sit on its back.

The oldest piece of parlour furniture in America came from the Bahama Islands, and spot where Columbus first landed, and the Indians did not have high back chairs as we have. They rested and slept in hammocks, hamacas, they called them, and we borrowed both the form and the name.

You sit on this chair as you lie in a hammock, for it is in truth a wooden and elegant substitute. Your feet rest on the ground by the side of the turtle’s forefeet, and your whole body lies along on the hammock chair, your head resting on the extreme end.

I cannot tell you how happy I was the first time I reclined on this curious couch gazing up into the sky and thinking of the time when the voyagers of 1492 landed at Guanahani and saw the dusky savages sleeping in hammocks, says a writer.

But I must tell you how I came to be so certain about the antiquity of my treasure. Well, I suppose there is no doubt that Columbus landed first on the Bahamas. This very chair was found in a cave on the islands by an acquaintance of mine who was exploring for bats. He also recovered stone implements and other relics of Carib occupation, but these do not concern us now.

But how do I know that such things were used by the Columbus Indians? Might not this chair have been made hundreds of years afterward? The great discoverer and his followers destroyed and removed all the savages of this region and substituted negro slaves; the Africans are good carvers and we often see pictures of chiefs sitting on stools carved from a single block of wood.

True, and that is a fair question. This very objection puzzled me a long time until one day I was reading the account of Columbus’s voyage by old Herrera, and popped on the following paragraph, which settled the matter finally:

“When the ship was ready to sail the Spaniards returned on the 5th November with three of the native Indians, saying they had traveled twenty-two leagues, and found a village  of fifty houses, and they contained about one thousands persons, because a whole generation lived in a house; and that the prime men came out to meet them, led them by the arms and lodged them in one of the new houses causing them to sit down on seats made of a sold piece of wood in the shape of a beast with very short legs and the tail held up the head before with eyes and ears of gold.”

Now, what have you to say against my chair. I have some doubt about the eyes and ears of gold. They might have been of very brilliant shell, because all our Indians use mother-of-pearl and other test of mollusks for inlaying.

The Daily Herald, Ohio, July 17, 1900, page 3

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