Furniture for the 19th-century Transformer
Campaign-style furniture goes by many names, such as “military furniture” and “traveling furniture.” But its most curious name is “patent furniture.”
It gets this name because many pieces fold up or transform into another form, and the designs were many times patented. The most famous example of patent furniture is the chair that converts to library steps. You’ll also find suitcase-looking boxes that become dining tables and chests of drawers that become dressing tables.
Today while poking around Tucker Payne Antiques in Charleston, S.C., I encountered a great fold-up desk and the fold-up shaving kit shown here. This I must build.
When at rest, it’s a low box with lots of the cool brass brackets that is perched upon four little bun feet. When you fold up the front you see a tray. Fold it up on its second set of hinges and you can see a bunch of little slots at the back – and you get access to the wide-open bottom compartment of the kit, which has a removable tray down there.
Gravity releases the hinged mirror, which folds forward and drops into the front tray. Awesome.
— Christopher Schwarz