Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chair Screens

Fireplaces with open fires or stoves were needed to heat  rooms in 19th century homes, including the dining room.  A creative way to protect the backs of those seated on the fireplace side of the dining room table was to place a screen on the chairs.  Leslie's 1850 instructions to make a chair screen...

"CHAIR-SCREENS.—To make a very good chair-screen, get a large sheet of the thick stiff pasteboard used by bookbinders and trunk-makers, (of whom it can be obtained,) and with a knife pare off the edges and trim it to the required size. It should ascend sufficiently above the back of the chair to screen the neck and shoulders of the sitter. Make a double case (like a pillow-case) of dark chintz or moreen, open at one end, to slip over the pasteboard. At each of the lower corners, sew a strong string of stout ribbon or worsted tape, and place two other strings about half a yard farther up, on the side edges or seams of the cover. When the cover is finished, slip it over the pasteboard, and sew it along the bottom edge, to keep the board from falling out. When ready for use tie it by the strings to the outside of the back of the chair. Three or four of these screens will be found very convenient in diningrooms, to screen from the heat the backs of those persons who sit on the side of the table next the fire. Also, they will save the chairs from being scorched and blistered.

You may have slighter chair-screens, by simply making cases of thick moreen, without pasteboard; leaving the lower end open to slip down over the chair-back."

Miss Leslie’s Lady’s Housebook. 11th ed. Eliza Leslie. Phila: 1850

Loudon, John.  An Encyclopædia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture and Furniture.   London: 1835      Fire-screen for chair

©2012 Patricia Bixler Reber
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