Thursday, 11 August 2016

Breadboards and a Birthing Chair

Wandering into the regular Saturday morning auction at a local antique/ second-hand store, I saw an Oregon pine fold-up camping bed that I liked and I decided to bid on it. The bed came from Craffords Furnishers in Swellendam. Craffords started as Cabinet Makers in 1938. The wood for the bed apparently came from Knysna.


The Birthing Chair
There were several pieces from Craffords dating from the 1938 Craffords Cabinet Makers, like the Oregon pine work bench and kist. I was lucky enough to buy the bed and when a “hall chair” came up and there was no interest, I bought it for a nominal amount. I thought it was a curious piece of furniture, clearly arts and crafts, with the original tag from Craffords still attached.



Remembering Craffords from my school days, it was more a sentimental buy. The tag described it as a hall chair but it was a curious T- shaped chair with what looked like a hinge between the seat and back of the chair. The three legs screwed into the seat. The chair was covered in rough carvings with a three-leaf clover design on the either end of the seat as well as at the top of the back-rest.



When I had a chance, I researched the three legged hall chair with clover designs. I discovered that I had bought a birthing chair circa 1910.



The birthing chair is described as being shaped to assist a woman in the physiological upright posture during childbirth. The birthing chair of this design normally has three legs. The seat supports the bottom of the woman in labour and the slender back is sloped for comfort. The arms of the chair are designed for gripping during child-birth so as to offer extra leverage.

Seat showing hinge
The history of the birthing chair can be traced back to Egypt in 1450BCE, Greece in 200BC and 100 BC in Britain.



The birthing chair concept has apparently been making a comeback since the 1980’s.



The mystery for me is how did a birthing chair end up in Craffords Furnishers in Swellendam?



One of the last items at the auction was a collection of bread/chopping boards that was knocked down to me for R5. I like chopping boards and was very happy to pick these up at that price.


Oregon pine fold-up camping bed circa 1938
Camping bed with 'bulsak'
Now I have a new old set of bread/chopping boards, a camping bed and a birthing chair. Life at Towerwater is ready for some culinary preparations, alfresco relaxation and a conversation piece.

1 comment:

Keith Loynes said...

What a discovery, the birthing chair. I am fascinated by the possible symbolic nature of the carvings. Any ideas?