Campaign seating is one of my favorite furniture topics. Roorkee chairs, X-stools, Fenby-patent chairs etc. are all interesting because they are portable, mechanical and (duh) chairs.
Jeff Burks recently turned up a number of fascinating Civil War photographs by James F. Gibson in the Library of Congress that have convinced me that there could be a whole book on Civil War seating. It would sell four copies, and I would buy three of them (thanks in advance mom, for buying the fourth).
Still, take a look at these photos and tell me these wouldn’t be fun to build.
Look at the photo at the top of this entry. This photo is from a series by Gibson of men playing dominoes at a mess table in 1862. First off, love the leather bucket and the tree-trunk table. Now check out the two stools. They are so crude that they are basically dowels. If you get the super hi-res image you can see the grain run-out on the legs and the seat fasteners. These stool were from sawn stock, though the grain is quite straight.
Next is a bunch of stool and X-chairs being used by secret service men. This image is a bit blurry, but you can see a bunch of three-legged stools and some X-chairs, which are being used correctly. (I don’t know how many moderns I’ve seen sitting on these 90° and getting their buttocks rightly pinched.)
The legs to the three-legged stools look somewhat tapered, but that could be perspective.
This is an awesome photo. Three kinds (maybe four) of seating. On the left is somewhat of a folding director’s armchair with turned and detailed legs. I’ve seen these in British catalogs. There’s a folding sling chair that looks like it might have cowhide on it – another common sight in the Army & Navy Catalogs of the day. A three-legged stool. What could be an X-chair. And another sling chair.
Only the director’s chair looks like it has any finish on it.
Here are more in the series for those that are as obsessive as I am.
As always, thanks to Jeff Burks for turning up these photos. More pieces like this are in my book “Campaign Furniture,” but you probably knew that already.
— Christopher Schwarz