One of the reasons that campaign furniture was so common in English society is that officers were required to purchase their own furniture and necessities for their commission.
As a result, The Army & Navy Co-operative Society, Limited, was an important part of the lives of servicemen, their families and (later on) England at large. The idea behind the Society, which traces its roots back to 1871, was to provide goods to officers at low prices.
The Society was where officers would buy every item they might need in service of the British Empire, from their sidearm to their shaving mirror.
My research into campaign furniture for a forthcoming book has had me plunging into the catalogues and rules of the Society. One of the interesting documents I turned up was an 1891 list of what officers needed to buy for their training:
Ash Chest of 3 long Drawers
Large square Table on four legs (forming front cover to chest).
Ash Tripod Washstand, fitted with 16 in. enamelled iron basin, chamber, soap and brush trays, goblet and bottle and glass.
Birch Camp Bedstead, size 2 ft. 4 in. by 6 ft. 4 in.
Quilted Horsehair Mattress.
Three striped coloured Blankets.
Waterproof Sheet to cover bed.
Looking-glass to stand or hang.
Strong Camp Hammock Chair.
Strip of Matting.
Piece of Rope (to secure matting round chest when packed).
Price complete to purchase 12 pounds 19 shillings 6 pennies.
The next stage of my research is to amass as many of the catalogues as I can – especially the early ones. One catalogue from 1898 is where the Roorkhee chair allegedly made its debut.
— Christopher Schwarz
5 thoughts on “Militia Training, 1891”
Is the three drawer ash chest a campaign chest? If so, I’m curious how the square table fits as a cover for what are mostly rectangular chests
Admittedly this is flimsy, but suppose “Ash Chest of 3 long Drawers” omits the additional two short drawers of the typical two-piece campaign chest. Since the combined pieces are roughly square, a square table could cover the front. Though I’m not sure what the purpose would be, unless crating all of that together for shipping.
I am looking so much forward to this book. (and now I even made a WordPress account to be able to say so!
Based on what I could find out, 13 pounds in 1891 would be about US$1,790 today. Bargain or not?
Comments are closed.