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