This mellow coloured mahogany Chair Bed by Edward Argles stands out from those by Thomas Butler and Morgan & Sanders for its caned back and sides, giving it more the appearance of a wide bergere chair. This is emphasised by the turned columns to the front of the arms and the decorative reeding to the edges. Certainly the solid sides of the chairs by the other two Catherine Street makers would be better in a cold climate to keep out a draft, but in a hot climate, such as India, Argles' version would be favoured. Butler described his chair beds as 'upon the most improved principle, forming a handsome easy chair, and with great ease is transformed into a Tent Bed with furniture and bedding complete'. He was right and the transformation from chair to bed is simply done. The seat of the chair is hinged to fold out in 3 sections to extend to the length of a 6ft bed. Extra legs, fitted with large brass bolts are then screwed into the end section to support the foot of the bed.
Originally this chair would have had posts that fitted to the four corners of the bed to support a canopy. For travel, each side is removed by releasing two bolts fitted from the underneath of the chair and one from the back. In removing both sides, the back also comes away reducing the size and also allowing you to use the bed without an enclosed head area.
This chair is the one illustrated in British Campaign Furniture by Brawer and has 3 replaced cushions allowing it to be used as both a chair and a bed. Circa 1813.
Chair Size is Given
Argles started as a cabinet maker in Maidstone, first with his father Thomas and then in his own right from 1795.
On the 29th of May 1810 he advertised the sale of his premises noting that he had taken Dr. Butler's business in Catherine Street. The brass inset plague to the front of the seat notes 'Argles late Butlers Patent, 13 & 14 Catherine Street'. Despite supplying the Prince of Wales with 'very elegant Royal Library Writing Tables' made in rosewood and banded in satinwood Argles did not make a success of the business and was declared bankrupt in June 1813. Butler took the opportunity to re-establish his business at 13 & 14 Catherine Street, much to the consternation of Morgan & Sanders his former employees and neighbours. Given Argles short time span at Catherine Street, his campaign furniture can be considered rare.