Saturday, March 17, 2018

History of furniture

When we were in Launceston recently we noticed this piece of furniture in the lounge of the Colonial Hotel.
It was being used as a seat for the public computer and created much interest as we were waiting to go into dinner one evening. The Colonial Hotel main building was originally a school dating back to 1847. It became a hotel 1972. Many alterations have been made and new buildings added but some features of the school have been retained in the original buildings. Some of the furniture in the old part of the hotel reflects the building's history.

I borrowed some books from the library to try and establish some information about this seat. This form of upholstery became popular from the 1820s and is still used today on some furniture pieces. I could not locate any pictures of a seat like the one at the hotel. It is similar to a window seat but they normally are not curved like this one. However I did find a picture of an 18th century window seat with two carved 'tongues' sloped to left and right.. The note about this seat suggested that sometime the flute (seating part) is narrow resulting in a trough or valley between two raised tongues. (Huntley page 106). Huntley has a section on English Settees (including varieties of window seats) for the period 1800-1840. One of sofas is upholstered brown leather in a similar design to the one in the hotel. Another name for a window seat is a banquette (a window seat with raised ends but no back). Recamiers (day beds) were popular in France in the early19th century. They developed into chaise longues.

I did not see any designs with the wooden rest on one side. It may have been used for placing a book on or as a small writing desk. The seat was possibly manufactured during the 20th century. Unfortunately I was not able look at it closely enough to see if there was a manufacturer's label. Whenever it was made, it is an interesting piece of furniture.          

Furniture: from Rococo to Art Deco. Cologne:  Evergreen, 2000

Judith Miller. Furniture: world styles from classical to contemporary. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2005

Michael Huntley. History of Furniture: ancient to 19th C. Lewes: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, 2004

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