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Carlton House Table & Chair

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts was an illustrated, British periodical published from 1809-1829 by Rudolph Ackermann. Although commonly called Ackermann’s Repository, or, simply Ackerman’s, the formal title of the journal was Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions, and politics, and it did, indeed cover all of these fields.In its day, it had great influence on English taste in fashion, architecture, and literature. The following excerpt from the April, 1814 edition displays a table and chair set designed for the Prince of Wales‘ Carlton House.

 An early 19th century sketch of the entrance front of Carlton House in London.
An early 19th century sketch of the entrance front of Carlton House in London.

Though no where near as extravagant as the the Royal Palace at Brighton, Carlton House remained an icon of the Prince’s particular sense of style. The glowing terms in the following passage can only be seen as ironic in light of Jane Austen’s own personal struggle with the Prince. In 1815, she would be “invited” to dedicate her upcoming novel, Emma, to him, a figure whom she claimed to loathe. Along with this “invitation” came the opportunity for a personal tour of Carlton House, guided by none other than the Prince’s own librarian, James Stanier Clarke.

This began a series of correspondence between Austen and Clarke. He appeared fascinated by his brush with fame (possibly even painting her portrait) while she later lampooned his topical suggestions for her future novels in her “Plan of a Novel, According to Hints from Various Quarters”.

Fashionable Furniture
We know that a people become enlightened by the cultivation of  the arts, and that they become great in the progress of that cultivation. That a just knowledge of the useful and a correct taste for the ornamental go hand in hand with this general improvement, the dullest observer may be satisfied by looking around him. We now acknowledge, that it is alone the pencil of the artist which can trace the universal hieroglyphic; understood alike by all, his enthusiasm communicates itself to all alike, and prepares the mind for cultivation. A national improvement is thus produced by the arts, and the arts are supported in their respectability by the calls which the improving public taste makes for their assistance; they are inseparable in their progress, and mutually depend on each other for support. In the construction of the domestic furniture of our dwellings we see and feel the benefit of all this. To the credit of our higher classes who encourage, and of our manufacturing artists who produce, we now universally quit the overcharged magnificence of former ages, and seek the purer models of simplicity and tasteful ornament in every article of daily call. Continue reading Carlton House Table & Chair

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Fashionable Furniture: The Library Table

“How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
-Pride and Prejudice

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts was an illustrated, British periodical published from 1809-1829 by Rudolph Ackermann. Although commonly called Ackermann’s Repository, or, simply Ackerman’s, the formal title of the journal was Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions, and politics, and it did, indeed cover all of these fields. In its day, it had great influence on English taste in fashion, architecture, and literature.

Many of the English fashion plates that remain from the Regency era are from Ackermann’s and while a wide assortment of topics were covered in each issue, fasshionable furniture was also highlighted. The following library table, from the January, 1814 issue, is suggested as the perfect piece for smaller homes and city apartments. Jane Austen spent time in London in 1814, with her brother Henry (his wife, Eliza, had passed away the previous year) Perhaps she wrote parts of her upcoming novel, Emma (1815) at a desk like this one, while staying at his home in Henrietta street.

Continue reading Fashionable Furniture: The Library Table

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The Lady’s Drawing Table

  Elinor sat down to her lady’s drawing table as soon as he was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the general concerns of the family; and if, by this conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much solicitude on her account. -Sense and Sensibility Fashionable Furniture from The Repository of Arts by Rudolph Ackermann, February, 1814 The very elegant and tasteful article represented in the annexed engraving, is intended to serve the double purpose of usefulness and pleasure. In the first, it is convenient as a breakfast or as a sofa-table; it also forms a convenient writing or drawing-table, with drawers for paper, colours, pencil, &c. For the second, a sliding board for the games of chess, drafts, backgammon, &c. which slides under the desk. It is very light, goes upon castors, and is particularly pleasant to sit before, as there is sufficient accommodation for the knees by its projecting top. The chair is contrived for study or repose. Its sweeping form is calculated to afford rest to the invalid; and the arms are sufficiently low to allow it to be used at the writing or reading-desk. It is lighter than its form would indicate, and it is easily moved, being placed upon traversing castors. (more…)
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Sedan Chairs

“Though I came only yesterday, I have equipped myself properly for Bath already, you see,” (pointing to a new umbrella); “I wish you would make use of it, if you are determined to walk; though I think it would be more prudent to let me get you a chair.” Persuasion The first sedan chair appeared in England as early as 1581, but was shunned by the public. In fact, in the early 1600’s when the Duke of Buckingham began to use one, he incurred public censure for making human beings do the work of animals. However, by the time Sir Saunders Duncombe introduced his chairs opinion had changed. In 1634, Sir Saunders Duncombe patented his own version of the sedan chair and obtained a monopoly on the rental of “hackney chairs” for fourteen years and “sprang some forty or fifty specimens upon a willing and even eager public” (Walsh). Elaborate costumes and coiffures were now in fashion and the sedan chair offered the surest way of travelling through filthy streets without getting rained on, splattered with mud, or having a coiffure ruined. The sedan chair was cheaper than hackney coaches, and a person could not only travel from door to door in a sedan chair but could travel from indoors to indoors without setting foot outside. The sedan chair was usually painted black outside and upholstered inside. Windows were fitted on three sides, though the front poleman necessarily presented the passenger with a view ahead consisting mainly of his back. (more…)
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Going By Coach

By Coach “Though Lydia’s short letter to Mrs F gave them to understand that they were going to Gretna Green, something was dropped by Denny expressing his belief that W never intended to go there, or to marry Lydia at all, which was repeated to Colonel F, who, instantly taking the alarm, set off from B intending to trace their route. He did trace them easily to Clapham, but no farther; for on entering that place they removed into a hackney-coach and dismissed the chaise that brought them from Epsom. All that is known after this is that they were seen to continue the London road.” Pride and Prejudice The hackney coach derives its name from the French word “haquenee” meaning ‘horse for hire’. The Hackney Coach or hackney cab first came to London proper in 1625 when there were twenty of them available for hire at inns. The first hackney coaches were a one-horse chaise for hire consisting of a primitive springless box upon wheels pulled by a single horse riden by the driver. Later Hackney coaches were often the discarded and outdated coaches of the nobility, often still bearing their faded coats of arms. The hackney coaches were shabby with dirty interiors. They operated out of inn yards and from coach stands located near main streets. The watermen, who ply boats on the Thames, felt their trade threatened by the introduction of the hackney coach, followed by the sedan chair in 1634. The Waterman’s Company succeeded in keeping (more…)