Douglas chairs

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chair chair  

 

The common Douglas chair was introduced in the 1860s, and it is only after this that we see photographic evidence of their existence. Over the years, they have been made in hickory, beech, walnut, pine, oak and blackwood. Douglas chairs can claim a greater share of Hollywood's film time than any other chair. Their time-scale fits the period of the Wild West perfectly, thus they line the board-walks, litter the saloons and can be seen breaking like matchwood over the heads of brawlers in endless celluloid battles. A solid oak Douglas chair is far more likely to break the head of the recipient as in such a brawl than vice-versa, and their durability has ensured their survival in large numbers. They were just as much a part of Australia's frontier experience as they were America's; Hillend and Gulong show Douglas chairs, and they appear in illustrations of the exploits of the Kelly gang, drawn in the late 1870s.

Many Australian now are more likely to associate them with public offices and government departments, for even today they are commonplace in some areas. Usually Douglas chairs found in this situation are thin, quite light to carry, and have ply seats. They were made in large quantities up to the second World War, and in limited quantities as late as the 1960s. Melbourne incorporates some of the 'Douglas' turnings.

Perhaps it can be said that the Douglas was the end of a long line of chairs leading back to the stick chairs of Old England, or does the line go unbroken as we would hope our own family tree would progress into the distant future.

The one piece of information I cannot offer, is which Douglas the chair is named after.

When seen in salerooms, a Douglas chair is more likely to be named a Captain's chair, bringing to mind it being used by an old sea captain.  Maybe a Douglas sea captain? 

Adapted from a piece by Ron Douglas, president of Clan Douglas Association of Australia

Sources


Sources for this article include:

• CDAA newsletter No32, February 1995

 
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Last modified: Saturday, 16 June 2018