The stool as it now called was a “chair” in ancient times. The stool, consisting of a frame with a covering suspended on the top for a seat has been in use for over 2000 years. Originally the stool (chair) was used only by a king or chief, so it follows that the position of a chairman at a meeting comes from this exalted use.
I have offered common stools using strong woods and 18th Century joiner methods for 25 years as a camp accessory with no known original to copy. These have been mistakenly called Washington stools by others. Washington’s stools were provided to him by Philadelphia upholsterer Plunket Fleeson along with tentage and tables May 1776 and are of unique construction. We know of the construction from only two known of the original eighteen. They are as different from my common stool as a Volkswagon is to a Cadillac and by my agreement with the Smithsonian not available to the general public. Duplicates of Washington’s stools made by me may be seen at Yorktown National Historical Park and at Rockingham Historic Site in Kingston, New Jersey.
My common camp stool is very strong and stable with two grades of seating- heavy linen canvas or double layer heavy cotton. Cotton will stretch and was not used in this fashion in the 18th Century. Frame construction is the same for both versions of the common stool. Linen costs more. The difference is due to hand stitching and cost of linen versus machine sewn cotton. Common camp stools come painted red, blue, green or yellow. This common camp stool is with canvas seating is priced at $80.00, while the linen seated version is $110.00.
My officer grade camp stool employs more involved construction techniques with mortice and tenon joints with recessed riveting, hemp or linen canvas underpinning and green Baize upholstery covering secured with cast brass nails (tacks) to varnished walnut framing. Legs have a stylish slight serpentine Chippendale shape and these stools costs $300.00 on special order.
I am sorry, but I know of no folding stools appearing in etchings, engravings or paintings known to have been produced in the 18th century having a back support.
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.
We hand-build 18th century travel furnishings and field equipage to your specifications.
The Living History Shop works in close collaboration with historic sites as well as the Smithsonian Museum to research and reproduce unusual and challenging examples of historic technology specific to the 1740-1790 time period.
Because of the increasing complexity and scope of our projects, we will no longer be printing a catalog. Simply call or email us with your needs or to obtain current prices and delivery schedule.
Curators of historic sites can obtain — with permission from sites in possession — reproductions of some of George Washington’s personal campaign furniture and accessories, including his: Folding Field Bedsteads, Mess Kit, Stool, Liquor Chest, Shaving Kit, large Storage Box, Luggage and Writing Case.
All items are made from original examples I have seen and documented and employ construction details of the original. Iron keyed locks are used on chest lids and drawers. Hand forged iron work is made to our specifications by Jeff Miller (Flintlock Forge).
- Wooden chests with dovetail or lap joints, forged iron or rope handles, snipe or strap hinges, painted or not
- Pine topped tables with scissor leg or sawbuck design (2″ X-legs with streacher between)
- Pine plank benches
- Pine bench Shaving Horse
- Red oak open frame wheelbarrows with solid (non-spoked) wheel standard
- Red oak standard size ( 1 3/4″ thick frame) four spoke wheelbarrows with or without sides 1/2″ thick
- White oak heavy duty wheelbarrows using 2″ thick stock for frame and 3/4″ thick sides and bottom – four spoke wheel
- 17-18th century Miner Style Wheelbarrow (from Diderot) with four spoked wheel in red or white oak 3/4″ sides
- Walnut folding officers bedstead in single or double width complete with bed curtains, mattress, and storage chest
- Walnut officers grade Chippendale style folding table with matching upholstered stool including custom canvas case
- Walnut or maple Georgian period folding chair upholstered in leather
- The best wooden handled table top brazier made
- Officer grade Mess Kit Canteen
- Wine crates with or without blown bottles
- Wine chest with blown bottles and glasses of officer grade in iron clasped walnut and with hand made lock
- Sundry small items such as lidded pine Tavern Tankards, Tape Looms, and curly maple Lanterns
18th century design folding bedstead with bedding (tic) contained in a hide covered trunk. The idea to build this piece came from reinactor Jose Lopez Reyes who saw an original in a museum in Madrid, Spain.
George Washington had one that is now at The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan. This one utilizes a wooden frame, however, Washington’s frame was metal.
The bed measures 32 inches wide by 73 inches long. Heavy linen sailcloth laced with hemp cordage provided by Frank Rodrigues. All hardware is hand forged period correct, blacksmithed by Jeff Miller. More than 500 cast brass nails (tacks) secure and decorate the oiled goat raw hide covering. These are the same tacks used Steve Freede of The Trunk Shoppe. The case is lined with green wool baize and fully finished.
This unique piece was shown at the Pennsylvania Fine Folk Art and Arms Show, October 28, 29, 2011 at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Delaware Valley mid-18th Century Sawbuck Table with Windsor Green painted legs using Rockler authentic color. Shown also is a correct pine plank bench with split off tapered oak legs that easily knock out for storage/traveling.
• Standard 1” thick 48” X 32” top shown on table — $330
• 48” long Bench — $90
With two benches you have comfortable seating for four people
Solid wood swells with humidity and shrinks across the grain when dry. This movement of the wood produces cracks if the wide wooden top of a table is secured to the finishing end board (bread board attached to hide end grain) and the batten attached under the top to provide additional strength by multiple fasteners.
Some early furniture builders solved this problem by making the joint that attaches the bread board end and the batten by a long “dovetail” joint. The batten or bread board is kept from sliding off the top by a single peg into the the table top and now the expansion/contraction takes place at will with no constraint. A 30” wide pine top will contract nearly 1/2 inch from my New Jersey summer shop weather to California or Arizona dryness on even in a heated house in the winter.
You can see this dovetail joint in the picture as well as the pin that secures the stretcher between the “X” legs of my Saw Buck table.
One of the interesting projects we’ve done just for fun has been to create an accurate scale model of our farm house, circa. 1840′s. The core of the house was built in about 1740, but it was extensively added to and remodeled throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Scale: 1″ = 1′
In the photo below, Regina Toone looks over her finished roofing project which required application of over 3,000 cedar roof shingles. The model is designed to disassemble for easy access to the fully finished — and furnished — interior.
Reproduction of Gen. Washington’s Campaign Liquor chest. Features hand blown decanters with hand etched folk tulip design and fancy hand blown glasses. The liquor chest lock was completely hand made from scratch.
The original chest is the property of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and the reproduction is on display in the visitors center at the Colonial National Historic Park at Yorktown, VA.