My thanks go out to two Lost Art Press readers for their help in transcribing and translating Johann Brotze’s 18th-century description of the Latvian bentwood chair. On the day of the original post, Peter-Christian Miest very quickly transcribed Brotze’s Cursive and the following day he provided an updated version. Over the weekend, Mattias Hallin translated the text to English.
Brotze’s Chair Description in English
A chair, such as the Latvian farmers make from wood, without gluing or nailing even the least part of it.
The chair A presented here is made in the following manner from several parts put together. The part a b c d forms the back and the two rear legs. On the upper portion of the same, on the inner sides opposite one another by d and a, are two sets of kerfs, in order to clamp in place the board e. By b and c the wood is halfway cut out, in order to be able to bend it and clamp in place the lower piece of wood f g h i, whose both ends f and i, have been cut in such a manner, as to fit into place and be held fast at b and c. In this lower piece of wood the part k l m n with its ends k & n that make make up the front legs, is set and finally the whole together with the part o p q r that forms the seat, assembled in such a way, that one part holds the other, and none of them yield. In the part o p q r and also l m four kerfs are made towards the inside, which go in deep enough, to hold in place the seat s. And this assembly gives a firm, immutable and durable stool.
You can read, or reread, the original post here.
Peter Follansbee provided a link concerning the knutkorg (“knot basket”), which certainly seems to be the precursor to the bentwood chair. You can find that here.
Once again, thank you Peter-Christian and Mattias!