An Exceptional Barrel Back Porters Leather Library/Fireside Arm Chair Of Generous Proportions. This statement leather chair is an exceptional example. Hand dyed supple ox blood leather with rare button seat base and button back rest with a barrel shaped back and brass nail head trim. Good age and patina/wear to this beautiful armchair. 115cm full height to back x 85cm full width x 60cm full depth x 40cm height to seat x 55cm width of seat x 55cm depth of seat.
Porter’s chairs originated in 16th-century France, where they were often made of cane or wicker, and were known as “guérites” (French for “sentry”) with high backs and sides. These chairs were commonly used for invalids and the elderly to protect them from draughts though the association of the form with the word for “sentry” suggests that their true original purpose was for hall porters.
An essential position in the homes of the well-to-do, the hall porter was the gatekeeper, admitting or refusing callers based on his memory for faces and names of his employer’s acquaintances, his knowledge of the acceptable members of high society, and even on his learned understanding of class attributes and distinctions. In an 1857 book, The Household Manager, Charles Pierce writes of the hall porter:
“If his master be a rich man, and a charitable one, that master is being for ever applied to by the distressed, the needy, and the impostor … Hence is called into exercise the necessity for the porter’s searching and discriminative eye, and his scrupulous pause before receiving a letter or answering an inquiry.”
Entrusted with such a crucial role in the security and well-being of the people he served, the hall porter was expected to maintain his post at all times, even sleeping in his chair after dark, and occasionally taking meals there, as well. Some porter’s chairs were equipped with drawers under the seat where supplies could be kept, or where hot coals could be placed keep them warm (they were often stationed in chilly, damp entrance halls). The chairs occasionally had a hinged shelf that could be propped up at night to hold a lantern.
Some porter’s chairs were hooded, or at least were ample, with high sides, in order to protect them from draughts. The hooded chairs were also thought to be acoustically helpful, so as to help the porter be as vigilant as possible.
We love this example which has good age and the look, dating from around the Midcentury aping the Georgian original.
As a genuine antique the product has wear and use commensurate with being over 100 years old. Some wooden products may have signs of historic woodworm. As a precaution we apply a clear triple action woodworm treatment that also kills wet rot, dry rot and woodworm. Please look at all the images carefully and ask any questions pre purchase as we do not unfortunately offer refunds due to the size and shipping costs of our antiques/items. All our items are available on line at Search & Rescued and other online stores.