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Regency Metamorphic Furniture of the 19th Century

February 21, 2017

Regency Metamorphic Furniture of the 19th Century - English Georgian America

We're excited to offer such a fine replica of one of the 19th centuries most prolific designs. A metamorphic Trafalgar Armchair. Finished with a warm walnut antiqued patina and upholstered in an elegant and traditional green tufted leather.

We're sharing the brief history of "The First Transformers - The Metamorphic Armchair" to highlight why we've chosen it.

The Metamorphic Arm Chair, along with other metamorphic furniture, enjoyed a brief time in history when it was en vogue and all the rage. Metamorphic library steps were designed for private libraries of the wealthy aristocracy and the Bourgeoisie whose book collections would climb the high walls filling tall bookcases.

Although these amusing metamorphic designs began in the mid to late 18th century, it was not until the Regency period around 1810 that the firm of Morgan and Sanders claimed a patent and began to manufacture them.

Thomas Morgan and Joseph Sanders, among other fine English cabinet makers took some queues from a select few famous French master cabinet makers, such as Jean-Francois Oeben, Jean-Henri Riesener and especially David Roentgen. These three were among the leading cabinet makers working for the Royal courts having introduced many creative and innovative metamorphic and mechanical furniture.

Although little has been documented about the Metamorphic Library Chair, most references can be based on two sketches. One by Rudolf Ackermann in 1811, which illustrates Morgan and Sanders’ chair, the second, by Gillows in 1834, see images below. With very little documentation about these items it is often difficult to provide a true claim as to the maker.

Rudolph Ackermann, a German immigrant living in London, published his ‘Repository’ from 1809 through 1828. “The Repository ‘devoted space to all things fashionable and... included hand - coloured plates of furniture, drapery and interiors’. The ‘Repository’ was the first interior design and fashion periodical published and was an avenue for the middle class to view and access what was already fashionable within nobility.

It was ‘convenient’ for Morgan and Sanders to occupy work rooms on the street near Rudolph Ackermann. They advertised in almost every issue and benefitted greatly from its exposure. In the July 1811 addition of the ‘Repository’, the Metamorphic chair was described as follows: “This ingenious piece of furniture is manufactured at Messrs. Morgan and Saunders’s, Catherine - St. Strand”. (Their typo, not mine) Having the drawings published for their Metamorphic arm chair was helpful to its success as well as for their success with other convertible furnishings.

Much can be said as to whether or not this chair was practical or just an amusing novelty. When these chairs are opened to use the steps, you couldn’t climb very high and probably couldn’t reach the higher shelves. Meanwhile, reaching out for a book while standing on the top would be quite precarious. Never the less, these designs were very successful and Morgan and Sanders took credit for their designs and benefitted from their popularity.

The Neo Classic design of this Regency Arm Chair, also known as the Trafalgar Chair, became popular with its rounded tablet back and reeded sabre legs. Most of these chairs were solid mahogany, as it was becoming more common throughout the Regency period.

The Regency Metamorphic Armchair is a wonderful example of innovation from this period in history. We are delighted to offer one of these chairs, that we in fact attribute to Morgan and Sanders. The beautifully carved tablet splat and the well executed reeding throughout our chair identifies Morgan and Sanders as its maker.

Images of Original Designs by Morgans and Sanders and Gillows of Lancaster.