This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
again to patent legislation for protection. A letter from Robert Gillow (1782) to one of the firm‟s customers expressed their concerns, „We must beg leave to request that the enclosed drawings be not copied by any person or shewn [sic] to any in our trade but returned as soon as convenient‟. Perhaps in response to the failure of earlier patent protection, most of the early nineteenth century patent applications focused on the mechanics of an invention. Thus, of the eleven patents registered by furniture makers between 1800 and 1810, eight related to the mechanical design of extending tables including a specification registered by Richard Gillow (1800). Gillows‟ solution was based on the addition of extra legs that could be slotted into metal or wooden grooves on the underside of the table. Other designs relied on telescopic arms and, in one instance, a system of hydrostatic bellows. In 1816 the trend had continued with a total of five patents registered for different designs of furniture castors.


4.3 The Patent Furniture Specialists of Catherine Street


The term „metamorphic‟ when applied to furniture appears to have been coined by Ackermann in The Repository when he described an open armed library chair concealing a set of Library Steps as a Metamorphic Library Chair (Ackermann, 1811a, pp. 40-41). In view of the dominant neo-classical influences on furniture design, Ackermann‟s use of the term „metamorphic‟ to describe the chair was probably inspired by the „Metamorphoses‟ myths41 written by the Roman poet Ovid in the eighth century (Phillips, 1979). Multi-purpose furniture at the beginning of the nineteenth century was nothing new; chamber pots had been hidden behind the fake drawers of bedside cabinets and English night tables for over fifty years. The „monk‟s table‟ or „monk‟s bench‟, where the back of a box-settle could be rotated forward to create a table, is thought to have originated in the Low Countries during the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, the appetite for mechanical novelties, fuelled by the newly opened „museums of curiosities‟ and a desire to keep pace with the latest interior designs, continued to drive demand and the early nineteenth century marked a high- point in the popularity of transformational, multi-function furniture.


Over a period of fifty years, between 1780 and 1830, at least forty patent furniture manufacturers were trading in London (Appendix 10.7). From the trade cards and advertisements of these firms42 it appears that most produced a combination of domestic and military furniture. Patent furniture manufacturers had developed their


- 33 -


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130  |  Page 131  |  Page 132  |  Page 133  |  Page 134  |  Page 135  |  Page 136