For a writer of historical(-ish) fiction, one of the joys of research has been collecting prints from (and when I can find them, full editions of) an early 19th century English publication called the Repository of Arts and Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions, and Politics, published by one Rudolf Ackermann between 1809 and 1829…and usually known for short as Ackermann’s Repository. A number of prints were included in each issue, detailing everything from fashions to famous houses and locations to furniture and other items of British manufacture…some of which are quite wonderful. In the “wonderful” category, here, for your viewing pleasure, is Pocock’s Reclining Patent Chair, from the March 1813 issue.
The accompanying text reads: Our engraving this month represents an elegant fashionable fauteuil chair, upon Messrs. Pocock’s patent reclining principle, to incline the back to any position, with double reclining footstools, which slide from under the chair to extend it when the back is reclined to the length of a couch. A reading-desk is attached to the side, and contrived to swing round in front of the chair. The whole is designed with classical taste, in the present improved fashion of modern furniture, by the ingenious inventors, Messrs. Pocock’s, of Southampton-street, Covent-Garden.
I did a little research, and it seems that the Pocock company specialized in furniture for invalids. But in this case they put their know-how into a more mainstream piece of furniture…and oh, what a piece!
The foot rest is retractable, probably tied in to the mechanism that reclines the back, so that the chair doesn’t necessarily take up all that much space…but the ornamentation! Those winged, pot-bellied lions in front are adorable…and the swiveling reading lectern (with attached oil lamp, it appears) is a delight–if a tad precarious-looking, perched as it is on the serpent’s coils. I wonder if any of these were actually built and sold by Messrs. Pocock?
Well, I know what I want for my birthday this year. 😉