Published at Friday, March 30th, 2018 - 19:51:46 PM. Balloon Chair. By Ernest Barnier.
The 1890s led to another major change in both style and design. The quality of timber available for furniture manufacture was by no means good compared to the timber used half a century earlier, but we were smarter now and knew how to make things stronger, quicker and even less expensive than before. However, this was done at the expense of hand carving, crisp, tight turnings and to the cherished designs of the past. Unfortunately this is progress; otherwise we would still be in the dark ages with clubs and caves. The style of the period was square, with turnings, machine-carved decoration, and pressings, and designed for mass-production, losing much of the character and finesse for which the earlier cedar chairs were renowned.
In my opinion, the second break-point in cabinet-making history is around 1835, when there were numerous changes in the styles of furniture influenced by many great designers. It was also the beginning of modern industrialisation, with the introduction of steam engines for power in the workshop, rather than horse-driven tread mills. This new technology drove a network of geared flat drive belts to give variations of speed used for rotating and band saws, and planers and lathes for cutting, planing, and turning timber for furniture manufacture. Also, our population was growing rapidly with barely enough skilled cabinetmakers to satisfy the growing demands of our young nation. The majority of chairs in this period were made with turned front legs, a convict (or trafalgar) style back and, occasionally, a carved back rail. The seats were often cane with a covered cushion for winter use and comfort; front seat rails were cross-grained on better quality chairs, as was sometimes the back rail. Drop in seats were also used in this period, but seldom seen after 1845.
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