This mahogany wheel chair has a padded back, arms and seat, reupholstered in deep buttoned blue leather. The brass-bound wheels have a secondary outer wheel, and a pair of smaller brass wheels which enable the chair to be reclined almost to the horizontal. The leg rest has a hinged foot plate and can be raised on rachet arms. One wheel is stamped ‘T Chapman, Manufacturer, 22 Edwards St, Portman Sq & 8 Denmark St, Soho’. English, circa 1850.
Height: 47in (120cm) Width: 33in (84cm) Length upright: 39in (100cm) Reclined: 82in (208cm) £5,800
Literature: Nicholas A. Brawer, British Campaign Furniture – Elegance under Canvas, 1740-1914, New York, 2001, p.105, pl. 103 shows a very similar invalid chair by J Alderman and there is further information on pages 159-160.
Thomas Chapman established his furniture making business in New Bond St but moved to Denmark St., Soho in 1838. Within 10 years he had opened his second premises in Portman Square. An advert in the London and Liverpool Advertiser in 1847 is headed ‘Comfort for the Afflicted’ and ‘solicits an inspection of improved Bath, Brighton and invalid chairs, sofas, spinal carriages, etc.’ There is also ‘a second-hand Hydrostatic bed to be sold very reasonably’. He catered for two very different sorts of clientele, the gentry and nobility on the one hand and ‘hospitals and all public institutions’ on the other. Decades of war, and the continuing presence of armies in India and Africa, inevitably created numerous casualties with varying degrees of injury. The sheer range of specialist furniture available from Chapman’s workshop is made clear by another advert offering ‘shifting dining tables for the couch, self-acting invalid chairs, spinal carriages and couches, spring mattresses, new Archimedean and Merlin chairs, and inclined planes’. He employed John Alderman (see Literature above) who became a partner in the renamed, Chapman & Alderman, in 1855.