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The chair is made of fine mahogany with a figured veneered top-rail and reeded arms and legs. A brass spring-loaded catch on one side of the chair is inscribed „Weeks‟s Pattern at his Museum Tichborne St. Hay Market‟ (Figure 8b). Thomas Weeks commissioned mechanical furniture from several London firms for a shop next to the museum and sold copies of the items on display23.


Recently discovered examples of other marked Weeks‟ items include a set of human weighing scales where, according to Mallett Antiques of London, a paper label applied to the underside of the device, states „Where are also made the Merlin‟s ... curious library chairs with steps imperceptible invented by Weeks well calculated for exercise, as they will produce perspiration from the nod of the neck to the toe in the course of a few seconds far superior to Dumb Bells used for that purpose – these chairs also answer for high beds.‟ The „curious library chairs‟ are clearly a reference to the Metamorphic Library Chair and the evidence from the Norman Adams Collection confirms that such chairs were being sold by Weeks as a curiosity alongside a vast array of other mechanical objects including the weighing scales, silver toasting forks and a variety of cabinet-mounted self-playing organs. Following the death of Thomas Weeks in 1834 his stock was sold at auction and Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first programmable computer, attended the sale. It is thought that the automata exhibited by John Joseph Merlin and Thomas Weeks provided the inspiration for Babbage‟s first computer. Since the eighteenth century English audiences had marvelled at the skills of the magician who frequently combined cabinet work and mechanics to create an illusion. In many ways novelty museums were an extension of this popular form of entertainment and there is little doubt that the transformation of the Library Step Chair into Library Steps would often be accompanied by the words „hey presto‟!


3.2 The Development of Specialised Library Furniture


By the turn of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. Referring to the preceding fifty years Dr. Samuel Johnson, author of „A Dictionary of the English Language‟ had already observed that the age was „running mad after innovation‟. Before his death in 1784, Dr. Johnson had witnessed the inventions of Arkwright, Hargreaves, Watt and Wedgwood and there was more to come. Handmade iron and brass fittings such as nails and screws were soon replaced by


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