Fixed upholstered furniture these days is something we all take for granted and every chair or settee we sit on provides a measure of comfort from any angle. However early examples of the upholstered chair which began to appear from around 1650 onwards were often quite crude in construction and were made by saddlers where webbing was stretched and tacked over a frame. Types of stuffing used ranged from grass and leaves to horsehair, wool and feathers. A stuffed and upholstered chair during the Victorian period was considered to be a luxury and ironically it was the stuffing and upholstery that often cost far more than the frame of the chair itself.
It was during the Victorian era that upholstered furniture reached the height of its popularity. The mechanisation and mass productions of the springs patented in 1828 along with the use of buttoning produced a much deeper seat and layers of padding and strong webbing prevented the springs from poking through. Deep buttoning on the seat (as well as the backs) which was over-stuffed rather than set in the seat then kept the whole thing in place.
Many of these sprung and buttoned chairs of the time were made from leather and it is the pleasing effect of general wearing and patinas on the frames and upholstery of these arm chairs that people still find so attractive today. Examples of antique chairs with the original leather upholstery, buttoning, overstuffing and springing are still to be found in good order in Lancashire, Cumbria and London antique dealerships.
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