Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fetch the Comfy Chair!

You’ve probably all noticed that most of the fashion prints I post in Fashion Forecasts are from Ackermann’s Repository, that splendidly illustrated journal of early 19th century culture and fashion. But along with the lovely depictions of fashion in each month’s issue, Rudolph Ackermann published many other plates: scenery from abroad as well as solidly English country houses, the latest in carriages, depictions of royal residences, and frequently, over the course of the magazine’s twenty year history, images of fashionable furniture. Paid advertising as we know it didn’t exist in the journals of the day, but furniture-makers hoping for a little free exposure must have flocked to Mr. A, hoping he’d depict one of their products in the Repository along with a flattering write-up.

One of my favorite prints of this type is this one, from the September 1810 edition: Library Reading Chairs.

Here’s the accompanying text:

PLATE 15: FASHIONABLE FURNITURE Our engraving this month exhibits two of the most convenient and comfortable library chairs perhaps ever completed. Each of them has become a favourite piece of furniture for the library, boudoir, and other apartments of the nobility and gentry. The first (on the left-hand side of the plate) is made of mahogany, or any other wood; the back, seat, and sides caned, with French stuffed cushions and covers; the arms corresponding; a movable desk and candlestick, affording every possible accommodation for reading, writing, &c. The whole chair is of itself completely comfortable.

The second is a more novel article, but equally convenient and pleasant: gentlemen either sit across, with the face toward the desk, contrived for reading, writing, &c. and which, by a rising rack, can be elevated at pleasure; or, when its occupier is tired of the first position, it is with the greatest ease turned around in a brass groove, to either one side or the other; in which case, the gentleman sits sideways. The circling arms in either way form a pleasant easy back, and also, in every direction, supports for the arms. As a proof of their real comfort and convenience, they are now in great sale at the ware-rooms of the inventors, Messrs. Morgan and Saunders, Catherine-street, Strand.

I want both of them! How about you?

Speaking of comfy chairs for reading...I’m happy to report that the paperback version of Courtship and Curses makes its appearance today, from Square Fish, Macmillan Children’s paperback imprint. For an excerpt and notes about the book, please follow the links to my website. And for ordering info, check Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Powell's, or the Book Depository.  Enjoy!


DangAndBlast! said...

How fun to see that men have always sat backwards/astride in chairs!

DangAndBlast! said...

And I want them too :-)