Published at Friday, March 30th, 2018 - 20:05:27 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.
Chairs seem to be one of the least likely types of furniture to survive, when you hear stories like, "one chair broke and granny threw it down the well years ago", or "when the leg broke we used it for fire wood". When it comes to restoring a chair, people object to the price, saying "it's too much", or "it's not worth it!" There must have been more chairs manufactured than any other item, as they were usually purchased in at least a set of four, yet few examples survive. Quite often, old chairs had very harsh repairs carried out on them: large screws for strengthening joints; steel straps nailed to the legs and side rails, often on the polished faces; large wood blocks glued in or large hunks of wood nailed on for extra strength; and the odd nail that often looks more like a railway spike - all of this plus a good slurp of glue just for luck. A lot of this type of damage, under many layers of upholstery, hides a surprise for the restorer. Trying to get a chair like this apart, repaired and re-glued is a nightmare. Very few chairs have escaped without some type of makeshift or bandaid repair. Full sets of chairs are scarce, and one must accept the concept of a harlequin set or a mixture of complementing chairs to fulfill one's chair requirements.
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