Dear Diva Readers,
onfession… Before my house fire I had an addiction. Chairs. I bought them. In all shapes and sizes. Little ones. Big ones. Ones that couldn’t be sat in…. that were just for decor. You might say… I had a problem. Nothing like a house fire to do a bit of er… “Spring Cleaning”… And while I might have had a problem with never meeting a chair I didn’t like… Yes. I admit it. I was a Chair-o-Holic….. The chair is an absolutely indispensable piece of furniture that has been a part of human culture for thousands of years! I’m certain even the cave women collected them. Used for comfort or ceremony, a study of chairs and their evolution reveals much about varying cultures and time periods.
I love nothing more than pulling up a… what else… chair and reading a good book… So I was delighted when I recently received an advance copy of Please Be Seated: Historic Chairs and The Tales They Tell by Gun Handberg Bjerkander. The author has dedicated much of her life to art and antiques as a museum curator, lecturer, columnist, and auctioneer. After much success in the author’s native home of Sweden, the book has been translated into English! Watch out Stieg Larsson… The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is getting some serious competition on the international book scene!
The book recounts the tales of 17 chairs and the memories of the often fascinating lives they have led and of the people who have lived with them. From the 17th century to present day, Bjerkander tells the tales of these chairs with insight, wit, great affection, and a slight Scandinavian slant. Anyone with a keen interest in antiques will appreciate the stories in this book as they are informative and fun to read. Chairs from seven different countries are explored varying from doll’s house miniatures to the majestic silver throne. I find it fascinating to observe how the chair morphed over time to suit different needs and to keep up with cultural norms. Looking at how the growing importance of comfort in the 20th century changed the shape and material of chairs, and comparing that to the earlier upright style of chairs gives one an interesting perspective into daily life of people from each era.
However, as with any antique, it’s not just the original period of the chairs that interest me. It’s the story of the chairs and how they came to be where they are now. Who owned them? Were they sold, passed down through generations, cast off and rediscovered in a rubbish heap? These are the stories that Bjerkander explores and shares with readers. To me, that’s what gives antiques and this book so much charm!
Do you have any favorite chairs? If so, let me know in the comments or head over to my Facebook page and share photos of them with me!
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva®