Pittsburgh Flea Markets

I stopped going to flea markets for a while, and in that time the Pittsburgh flea market scene has changed significantly. Here’s an update from what I’ve learned so far this year.

The biggest, best flea market around is still in Rogers Ohio, Fridays only (year round). This one takes extra effort since it’s on a week day, relatively distant, and takes all day to get through the whole thing, so I usually only go once a year.

My previous favorite local flea market was Wildwood Peddler’s Fair, but that closed a year or so ago. I think they never really recovered from the flooding of Hurricane Ivan.

Trader Jack’s in Bridgeville is one of the older markets which is still going strong, but unfortunately I don’t like it any more than I used to.

My newest discovery is Rossi’s Pop-Up Market, which is less than 7 miles away in an ex-Loew’s theater. It’s indoor-outdoor, all year round, Saturday and Sunday. This is a much nicer, cleaner place than Jack’s, though I still haven’t found anyone selling good old tools.

I also haven’t found anyone I recognized form Wildwood. Maybe they went out of business, or maybe I just haven’t found the right market yet?

What is a Windsor Chair, Anyway?

I realized that most likely, not everyone who reads this knows what a Windsor Chair is.

In broad strokes, a Windsor Chair is a chair which uses a solid plank for a seat, with sticks sticking out of the bottom for legs, and sticks sticking out the top to form the back and/or arms. In contrast, other chairs tend to use a frame of some sort instead of a plank seat, and often combine the upper back posts with the rear legs.

Of course, one could apply any number of statements of the form, “It’s not a Real Windsor Chair unless …,” and many people do. Those people are usually chairmakers (or teachers of chairmaking) who are describing the chairs they make (or teach you to make), in an attempt to sell you something.

There are many different traditional styles of Windsor Chair. Their names usually describe the construction of the upper part of the chair: “fan back,” “bow back”, “sack back,” “continuous arm,” and “bird cage” are some examples. Other names describe the overall form, such as “writing arm chair” and “settee.”

The height of American Windsor Chair design and construction was from the mid 1700’s through early 1800’s. They were produced by hand in mass quantities, and were ubiquitous in American homes. As the Industrial Revolution began, designs degenerated for the sake of ease of production.