Late Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st century CE. An iron folding chair or stool created for an esteemed military officer or high official that represents the tradition of ancient Italian command insignia. The X-form folding chair/stool has one long and two short seat rails with support rails across the bottom, flat feet, and round knobbed finials at the corners of the seat rails and also at each side of the hinge of the X form. Such chairs, known as "sella," were used as status symbols and markers of command during the Etruscan and early Roman periods. By the Roman Republican and Imperial periods, the folding chair, known as the "Curulian chair," together with the fasces, constituted essential insignia of consuls, censors, praetors, and aediles. This type is an iron field chair, referred to as "sella castrensis" or a "camp stool," that was customarily used by military authority - usually reserved for the commanders in the field. Size: dimensions when open 14.5" L x 18.125" W x 19.25" H (36.8 cm x 46 cm x 48.9 cm)
One can find depictions of this chair type on a number of ancient Roman coins. One example depicts the Emperor Caligula standing left on a dais, addressing troops in an event known as an adlocutio cohortium (address to the cohorts), with the sella castrensis behind him (Gaius (Caligula). AD 37-41. AE Sestertius (27.99 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 37-38.)
A Roman iron and bronze folding stool dating to the 2nd century CE sold for USD 45,600 at Christie's New York (Antiquities, Sale 1531, 8 June 2005, lot 172). A Roman bronze stool dating to the 2nd century CE sold for USD 27,485 at Christie's New York (Antiquities, Sale 1163, 12 December 2002, lot 247).
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA; ex-Sands of Time, Washington, D.C., USA; ex-private German collection, owned since the 1960s, purportedly excavated from a Roman fort in Germany, thereafter with the Living Torah Museum, Brooklyn, New York, USA where it was purportedly exhibited 2006-2014.
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