“One of the reasons we like campaign furniture so much is the ability to research it more than domestic furniture and really put it into a time and place with the owner,” says Sean Clarke. “That counts for quite a lot but also unusual design is a factor – a lot of the design was very forward thinking and was an inspiration to a lot of 20th century design”.
A mahogany folding bed chair currently on offer from Christopher Clarke Antiques can be seen as the precursor to the modern sofa bed.
The c.1805 piece is associated with Thomas Butler, who is considered the ‘grandfather’ of campaign furniture designers. He is first recorded as starting in a partnership sometime before in 1787 and went on to feed the late 18th century appetite for metamorphic furniture.
Comforts on the move
Campaign pieces such as this pack down neatly, perfect for one of Wellington’s officers. Originally it would have been sold with posts and a hinged canopy to turn it into a tent bed, although these elements have been lost over time. The high sides offered protection from draughts while the wide seat makes it an accommodating bed.
Butler’s brass plaque is fixed to the front, giving his Catherine Street, London, address.
A video of the chair being folded is available on the dealer’s website where the bed is priced at £4450.