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decorations to finish the plain surfaces at the centres of the voluted arms. The chairs at Tatton Park and Trinity College Oxford together with the one held in the Schneidman Collection all use circular paterae in this context. The paterae are all of the same design; a simple lathe-tuned disk with two raised concentric circles (Figure 25b). The use of a different routing tool and the application of modified paterae would be a simple and effective way of differentiating the design. Nevertheless, it is also the case that these drilled and glued bosses are frequently lost or damaged and they are often the first features to have been replaced on a restored chair. The similarity in the design of the paterae may therefore be the result of restoration rather than an original design feature. Taking all of these factors into account, any attribution based on these decorative elements would be risky. Regency chair- makers would have had a range of routing tools at their disposal and could easily have replicated any of the reeded patterns. The paterae could also have been copied although it is more likely that the similarities are due to subsequent restoration. The only decoration that truly differentiates a piece is the tapered side reeding on the Mallet chair - the sign of a quality maker working for a wealthy client.


7.1.4 Quality


The materials and construction of a chair provide the most reliable evidence of authenticity. While many of the fittings can be replaced with modern-day reproductions, the original timber and the skill used to cut the joints and carve the wood are difficult to fake. Although the quality of camp furniture was close to its domestic equivalent, the priority of firms such as Morgan & Sanders was to develop and manufacture cleverly-designed furniture that was compact, light and easy to assemble. In contrast, cabinet-making firms such as Gillows were more concerned with quality and customer service. At this end of the market the priority was to offer a reliable, bespoke service where a customer could order items to match their existing decor and the Gillows‟ Sketch Books provided the „corporate memory‟ to support this practice. For Morgan & Sanders, the discovery of a new catch, clip or fold-flat handle would be seen as a way to improve and enhance their products but, for the family firm of Gillows, it would be the quality of the timber, the appropriateness of the finish and the exactness of execution that would help them to maintain their reputation. Standing back from the six chairs a few quality touches are immediately apparent.


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