The Shakers are a religious group that came to America from England in 1774 led by Mother Ann Lee. The group grew until there were 18 Shaker communities in the eastern part of the country. Some of the communities made furniture that was sold to outsiders. The Shakers’ religious beliefs required that their designs be undecorated, so their furniture was made with slender shaped spindles, woven seats and legs without a separate foot. No veneer was used and turned wooden knobs, not metal ones, were used as hardware. In 1970 Shaker furniture was featured in the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 70, the World’s Fair in Japan, and the old but very modern-looking furniture became popular with collectors. There are only a relatively small number of authentic Shaker-made pieces of furniture, so prices went up for a long time. But they have come down a little in the last few years. Today an average chair sells for about $700 to $900.

Shakers from the Enfield, N.H., community probably made this rocking chair with typical shaped splats and candle-flame finials. The chair’s condition, proportion and design make it one of the finest of Shaker chairs. It sold for $43,875 at a 2011 Willis Henry auction in Concord, N.H. The auction sold only items made by the Shakers.