Published at Friday, March 30th, 2018 - 20:07:21 PM. Balloon Chair. By Ernest Barnier.
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.
Australian chairs followed the designs of their European counterparts very closely, the major distinguishing factor being that our local cedar timber was not as hard or as tight grained as the mahogany used in England, and was prone to breaking through the short grain of the back legs or in the shallow turnings and tenons. Bearing these problems in mind, cedar chairs will often have larger proportions to allow for the lesser structural properties, and most examples show considerable wear to the legs, especially the front pair. Fine quality examples of Australian cedar chairs are made of select cuts of cedar utilising the closest and straightest grained timbers for strength and also for their similarity to mahogany. There was quite a prestige associated with being able to afford goods from abroad, primarily England.
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