Published at Friday, March 30th, 2018 - 19:18:16 PM. Balloon Chair. By Gilberte Fournier.
The 1870s and 80s saw predominantly balloon-back chairs with a variation or the bar-back -the ladder-back chair. The ladder-back chair, although not all that pretty to look at in comparison with the others previously discussed, is probably the sturdiest of all cedar dining chairs, excluding provincial manufactured chairs utilising peg construction methods and leg stretchers. The ladder-back chair has two horizontal back rails that are tenoned into the rear legs, giving both strength and comfort at small sacrifice to style. Even though there were many of this style of chair manufactured, we have repaired surprisingly few with any major damage. We have seen many examples of these, both hard-seated and upholstered versions, usually with turned front legs. Another point worthy of mention is that the back legs are straighter, relying on nature to its fullest with less short grain, giving greater mechanical strength following a straighter line and therefore resulting in a stronger chair.
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.
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