Ladder-back Chairs - Furniture or Piece of History?
Since it was first designed, the ladder back chair became popular across the world. This is probably due to its strong construction. It could withstand the rough handling of that era when there were many wars and migrations. It was designed in a way that utilised the tools, materials and knowledge that existed at the time. Whereas timber was plentiful, woodworking machinery was limited or nonexistent. It was probably hard work at the time to produce a single ladder back chair, but the people of that time were very patient.
Each rung of the ladder would, painstakingly, be made to perfection - by hand. The mortise and tenon joints would then be meticulously made and assembled. At the time, the chairs were made for practical use and so, the finish would not get as much attention as is given premium grade furniture of present day. Some were varnished while many were merely sanded down and left. They were made of different kinds of hard woods and that is why many have survived till today.
Ladderback chairs were simple in construction. They were not made to stand out from the rest of the furniture. They had many practical uses ranging from; sitting on, stepping on, to using as a rig to hang newly made candles.
Due to the limited variety of furniture at the time, these chairs were quite handy to have around the house. They occupied little space owing to the small seat area they had. Also, thanks to the ladder like back, they were easy to carry around by simply tucking the back under the arm and clasping one of the lower rungs.
Ladderback chairs used such a little amount of materials that, so many could be made from only a little wood. A popular version of a ladder back chair was the rocking chair. This was widely used and a big number of ladder backs were rocking chairs.
Almost any movie set at that time would have a ladder back rocking chair on the set. They had a nostalgic effect on the older folk, and with good cause.
Even in all their simplicity, Ladderback chairs are rather good looking. It is for this reason that they have been around for ages and yet, they never lost their appeal. They are still being built in workshops across the world.
At the same time, the older ones are collectors' items. They are sold as antiques and can fetch quite tidy sums. Owing to their practical and often rough use, it is difficult to find an antique ladder-back chair that is in mint condition. Many have to be restored but this makes them lose value significantly. The true antiques have to compete on the market place with their newer counterparts made by dedicated artisans in modern establishments, but using skills handed down over the ages.
Whether it's an authentic, middle ages master piece, or a modern well-made imitation, one has to admit, a ladder back chair is good looking.
While, probably, the first ladder back chair was made with straight pieces of wood, many variations have been introduced over the generations. The basic design concept however, remains the same. The most noticeable difference is in the shape of the rungs. These have taken creative new shapes in the newer versions. It is now possible to find Ladderback chairs with intricately carved parts, and more so the back. This is probably what has made the ladder back to be around for such a long time. The possibilities of different designs are virtually endless. A ladder back chair will always have a sense of newness which has not been possible with most other types of ancient furniture designs.
About the Author:
Diane Kirby is the lead author for the UK based Wholesale Shoe Reviews website. Diane's primary responsibilities consist of article authoring, content creation and comment moderation for the review site. Diane has been working as the primary author both this site and many others for a number of years.
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