The Fragrance Route | The Volkwyn Chair

Ravel Nortjé (now deceased) busy in his workshop in Friemersheim. His grandmother was a Volkwyn, and family of the four brothers who manufactured Volkwyn chairs and other furniture in Friemersheim at the beginning of the 20th century. A replica of the Friemersheim Volkwyn chair made by him is on permanent display at the historic Friemersheim church.

From Old Cape Furniture, Studies In Style – Matilda Burden (SUN MeDIA, Stellenbosch

The Volkwyn chair – variant of the Regency style

The characteristic feature of Cape Regency is, as in English Regency, clean straight lines – straight in the sense that they are not shaped but curved. The Regency curve is especially noticeable in the upper back rail of seating furniture, which is a horizontal curve, and the back stiles, which curve where they meet the edge of the seat. If there is not a yoke-back rail, the top part of the stile curves to the back. Legs are usually round and tapered with ring turning, which became so typical of Cape Regency that it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Cape leg’. The correct term for this leg is the Regency turned leg.

The Volkwyn chair is a late variant of the Regency chair that came into being in the Southern Cape. It is named after the Volkwyn family, who lived and worked in the George/Groot Brakrivier area at the beginning of the 20th century and developed this variant of the Regency chair. Theodore or Tak Volkwyn, probably the best known of them, worked for more than four decades in the cabinetmaking industry in George. Hendrik and Isak Volkwyn from Gonnakraal, Friemersheim, were the other members of this family in the business.

The chair has so many variations that it is difficult to say what a typical Volkwyn chair looks like. The chair in the image is found in the George Museum and may be regarded as giving the best indication of the various Volkwyn characteristics. The features that it shares with the typical Regency side chair are the inserted upper back rail, the curved back stiles, the broad and flat seat edge and the Regency turned legs. Additional features are the back rest that is higher than that of the average Regency chair, an additional turned spindle upper back rail above the usual broad, inserted upper rail, an additional back rail below the normal lower back rail, and three turned spindle-shaped rails on the front and sides of the underframe. The bottom of the broad back rail – now second from the top – has been shaped in an arcade. Between the two thin back rails there are four bobbin shapes, corresponding exactly with the bobbin-type rail of the Regency chair.