Published at Friday, March 30th, 2018 - 19:20:04 PM. Balloon Chair. By Ernest Barnier.
Most chairs made in Australia before 1830 have saber-style front legs, some tapered and pegged (in an English provincial style), and others have turned front legs that were manufactured on a pole or treadle lathe. Machinery in the workshop at that time was very simple, driven by manpower in the form of a treadle or rotating flywheel: the job at hand was pretty well all hard slog. This period in our turbulent past of colonial cabinet-making is considered by all experts and connoisseur collectors alike as the only period worth collecting, as it was pure in style and as close to being completely hand-made as possible. Chairs of this period are mostly fitted with drop in seats and, on rare occasion, are caned below, allowing the seat to be removed for summer comfort. Chairs from this period are extremely hard to find.
Well, at least they were 19th century! Unfortunately, with steadily increasing labour and material costs the era of the bodger (or chair-maker) was close to an end before the end of the 19th century. The end of truly hand-made chairs: mortised and tenoned without the aid of machinery; with turned and carved legs, sometimes even with carved back rails depending on the particular skills of the craftsman making them. Very few examples of Australian chairs with the Trafalgar-style back have carving on the actual cresting rails; these chairs, even as individuals, are eagerly sought and highly prized.
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