The "roundabout" chair, also referred to as a "corner" chair has been a popular piece for antique furniture collectors for decades. With its crescent-shaped back and square seat, its unusual design makes one wonder what the chair was actually used for.
|Roundabout chair also known as a corner chair|
Image by Hannah Manning via Materials Unlimited
It's believed that the roundabout chair originated in England and was adapted from other Gothic era furnishings of the of time. The earliest known example of the chair in America dates to the early 1600s. While some furniture historians argue that the roundabout chair was used a writing chair, others contest that the chair was used by women to display their bustled dresses.
Not only is their function unknown, but historians also cannot pinpoint the exact time in which the chair developed. Because most of these chairs lack information regarding their creators, historians believe that the chair was crafted in towns and villages throughout the country by cabinetmakers and joiners - which is evident by the vast shapes and forms these chairs take. These craftsmen would have relied on their clients to provide the required chair dimensions and basic form. While some roundabout chairs are rectilinear and crude, others of the same period have turned legs and crescent rails.
Because no one is quite sure how its design came to be, it's also hard to nail down its use. Until further can be discovered the mystery of the roundabout chair will continue...or will it?
For more information on the roundabout chair check out this article by Collectors Weekly.
A History of Seating, 3000 BC to 2000 AD: Functions Versus Aesthetics,
via Google Books
New York Historical Society Museum and Library
Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library