Published at Monday, April 02nd, 2018 - 04:01:38 AM. Balloon Chair. By Cecilia Ardouin.
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.
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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