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sake of notoriety, ridiculously give names to furniture‟ and he cited the Trafalgar Chair as an example (Brown, 1822, p. xii). Regardless of the name, its origins or its relevance, it was the Trafalgar Chair design that was in demand and it was the Trafalgar Arm-chair that provided the inspiration for the Regency period Metamorphic Library Chair (Figure 7b) in 1811.


It was also during this period that mahogany had become the most common cabinet and chair-making material. Severe winters during the first few years of the eighteenth century followed by French trade embargoes and tree disease had led to a shortage of local and continental walnut. In 1733 Sir Robert Walpole and the Whigs abolished the duty on all imported timber from the colonies and larger consignments of mahogany started to arrive from the West Indies. Cabinet-makers were quick to recognise the benefits. Not only was the new timber resistant to woodworm but, according to Robert Wemyss Symonds (1929, p. 135), the strength of the wood also allowed firms to make the legs, rails and backs of their chairs in a more slender form with accentuated curves. These neo-classical motifs had been difficult to achieve in walnut. By the turn of the century mahogany was so popular that, materials such as rosewood or satinwood were handled as special orders.


Summary


The Regency period Metamorphic Library Chair first appeared in London around 1811, the year in which Jane Austen published her first novel20 and four years after gas lights were installed along Pall Mall. Design features such as the sabre-shaped legs, the concave top-rail and the voluted open arms originated in Paris at the end of the eighteenth century but furniture designers including Sheraton, Hope and Smith simplified and standardised the form to create an English neo-classical style chair that was then adopted by the furniture trade. The familiar profile of the Grecian- inspired chair became known as the Trafalgar Chair in memory of Lord Nelson who died on board HMS Victory at The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. During the first ten years of the nineteenth century a combination of Grecian design motifs, military inspired furniture innovation and intense competition between the cabinet-makers led to several new mechanical and metamorphic furniture designs. At the same time cabinet-makers started to take full advantage of the new timbers. Mahogany, with its close interlocking grain meant that thinner structures could be used and chair


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