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together with an early nineteenth century fascination for mechanical „wizardry‟ and proof that Thomas Weeks was featuring the Metamorphic Library Chair at his mechanical museum also indicates that these items had a novelty value. It is therefore most likely that metamorphic Library Step based furniture was viewed more as a „conversation piece‟ than a serious substitute for a sturdy library staircase or ladder and this probably explains why most libraries had both.


3.4 The First Metamorphic Library Chair


Folding chairs had been known from the end of the sixteenth century when simple X- framed variations could be found in the chancels of country churches (Gloag, 1967, pp. 66-67). During the early seventeenth century a dual-purpose chair-table29 appeared where the back rest of the chair could be rotated forward to rest on the arms of the chair to form a small table. Other forms of mechanical chairs were mentioned in the diaries of John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys during the middle of the seventeenth century. In November 1644, Evelyn writes of a „whimsical chair, which folded into so many varieties, as to turn into a bed, a bolster, a table or a couch‟ (Evelyn, 1862, p. 140). Viscount Linley (1996, pp. 116-117) has also described a pair of „sleeping chairs‟ that were made for the Duchess of Lauderdale at Ham House in south-west London around 167030. The first library ladder recorded in England also appears in the library at Ham House in 1679. An inventory list of the estate includes „one foulding ladder of cedar‟. Prior to this, the volume of books hardly warranted bookshelves. In Samuel Pepys diary of 1666 he notes that his books were „lying one upon another on my chairs‟ until he asked „Simpson the joiner‟ to make him his first book press. The book press together with Pepys‟ collection of books is currently located at Magdalene College, Cambridge.


But, according to an article in „The Sunday Business Post Online‟ entitled „A whiter shade of pale wood‟ published in January 2007, it was Jean-François Oeben „who came up with the novel idea of a library chair whose seat concealed steps for one of his best customers, Madame de Pompadour‟ (Anon, 2007). Viscount Linley may be referring to the same chair when he mentions a prie-dieu31 that converted into Library Steps. According to Lindley the chair was made by the ébéniste Pierre Migeon II which suggests that the chair was produced before 1758 (Linley, 1996, p. 121). There is also documentary evidence that Chippendale made Library Step


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