Many of the terms used in association with antiques can sometimes be difficult to fathom as to what they might mean; some use foreign words making it more difficult if you don’t speak the language, but some are very simple and obvious. Perhaps none more so than 'ladder-back' which is a type of chair. Unlike some terms it is not one that applies to a particular period or maker, as many different manufacturers over many years made ladder-back chairs.
The chair back is made from horizontal slats or spindles between the two uprights; they first appeared in the Middle Ages and became commonplace in England during the 17th Century. They were also to be found in America and by the mid 17th Century chairs made out of walnut for more fashionable homes were introduced; hitherto ladder-backs were generally considered a more rustic furnishing. Over time their began to appear on the top slat, which was often slightly wider, designs. Sometimes these were simple holes to make the lifting and carrying of the chair easier. The ladder-back in the picture is an early 20th century Arts & Crafts chair.