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The Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Fla., is lining its domed music room with newly restored seating that had long been shedding bits of gilding and threads from its tapestry upholstery. Meanwhile, the once-prominent original supplier of the furniture, Pottier & Stymus, is re-emerging from obscurity.

The oil and railroad magnate Henry Flagler and his third wife, Mary Lily Flagler, bought roomfuls of Pottier & Stymus furnishings around 1902, as Mr. Flagler’s longtime favorite architecture firm, Carrère & Hastings, was completing construction of the couple’s showplace Beaux-Arts house.

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For millennia, humans have utilized seating furniture. The earliest surviving three-dimensional depiction of a chair is a clay model dating back to approximately 4750–4600 BCE; the oldest surviving chair belonged to the Egyptian princess Sitamun (Cairo Museum) and dates to approximately 1400 BCE. European immigrants to the New World in the seventeenth century brought chairs and other furnishings with them and began to produce chairs domestically shortly thereafter, adhering to the European prototypes. It was not until the early nineteenth century that Americans began to manufacture furnishings which, while they still borrowed classical and European motifs, had a decidedly American flavor.
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