We have always been interested in Campaign Furniture. Its appeal lies in the understated elegance, clean lines and fascinating history.
What is Campaign Furniture?
It is mostly associated with British military, Administrators and Colonists.
With the expansion of the British Empire in the C18th and C19th there was a demand for specifically made Breakdown Furniture for ease of travel. This was purchased by British Army Officers for themselves, many of whom who acquired their Officers’ Ranking according to their social status! This created a demand for high quality portable furniture.
The most common item of Campaign Furniture is the Chest of Drawers, made of predominantly Mahogany, Camphor Wood or Teak. This was made in 2 parts with removable feet, brass corner straps, and often carrying handles. Frequently the top drawer would fold down and contain a secretaire ( writing desk ) where the officer was able to write his letters, reports etc.
The numerous items specifically made for travel, include beds from 4 posters to tent beds, chairs, large dinning tables, sofas, book cabinets, wash stands, wardrobes, desks, mirrors, lanterns, canteens of silver, cooking equipment, all of which were made to be portable. By the mid C19th, the demand for Campaign Furniture encouraged the ‘makers’ to become very inventive e.g. tables were cleverly hinged and folded down into a box.
Many companies specialized in manufacturing portable furniture especially in the C19th with the greater military needs and people moving out to the colonies. The most well known manufacturers were Ross and Co of Dublin, The Army and Navy stores, Thomas Butler, to name but a few.
The beginning of the C20th saw changes in the way war was conducted, with armies becoming more mobile and the advent of the motor vehicle made travel faster. There was less need to equip for a long journey and as a consequence there was a sudden decline in specialist manufacturers.
While it is still possible to purchase various items of campaign furniture it is becoming harder to find making it very sort after.