"Please have a look at my work and stay awhile." Dick Toone, Artisan and Proprietor

Cotton Versus Linen. Which is Correct for an 18th Century Cot?

When recreating a historic piece of furniture I look at as many existing original samples as possible. After all, the resulting recreation has to be right! Having said that, the making of Revolutionary War era cots has posed a dilemma for years, because the several original cots I have seen never had original fabric in place.

What I do know it that headboard peg’s spread has a width of 30 plus inches. The pin between the legs fixed the height and that too pointed to a 30 inch width. Canvas and most other fabric rarely exceeded 26 inches (this probably due to having to pass a hand shuttle back and forth when weaving).

Frank Rodrigues in New Bedford repairs sails for many historic and reproduction square riggers today and the English linen canvas he uses  still comes 26 inches wide. Linen is preferred because it does not stretch. Cotton does stretch and was too expensive in the 18th century for sails, tents, or cots. The only answer seemed to be to sew two pieces together of linen together. Now that gets expensive and I have no proof it was correct.

Enter Jim Kochan (James A. Kochan Fine Art & Antiques Frederick, MD) with an original cot with the original pieced canvas in place! So now I had confirmation of the piecing together the fabric.  Now the question is answered but the cost is higher. Oh well, either it is right or it is not.

My cots now will be with the pieced (double hand stitched) heavy linen canvas stitched and supplied by Frank Rodrigues. The canvas will be  secured to the cot rails by nails through a strip of leather all as observed from original 18th Century examples. The cots will handle very large people with no problem, disassemble for easier transport, and provide a sense of satisfaction of sleeping in comfort more correctly.


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Have a look at my museum-quality reproduction travel furnishings from 1740-1790. Including folding beds, chests, tables, chairs, wheelbarrows and all manner of accessories. I have been dedicated to meeting the needs of museums, historical sites, and officers in the field.

I will be attending some history venues and demonstrating horn making on the spring pole lathe.



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Richard & Regina Toone
18 Tower Drive
Columbus, NJ 08022
PHONE (609) 261-3415