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Regency Bath Chairs for the Upper Classes

 
 
Noddy24
 
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 10:05 am
I had always assumed from my readings of Jane Austin and the Victorian Novelists that a "bath chair" was simple a wheelchair without chrome.

Last night re-reading a Michael Innes murder mystery, written in the '70's but set in the '40's I learned that bath chairs could either be pushed or pulled.

Googling I found a great deal of information on invalid equipment for the bathroom and this footnote to Great Expectations which is taken from The Dictionary of Daily Wants (1858-1859)

Quote:
A species of small carriage drawn by the hand, especially adapted for invalids, cripples, and aged persons. The peculiar construction of the bath chair admits of its being brought into the hall or even the room, so that a person may be placed comfortably in it, without being exposed to the cold. It may also be drawn round a garden-walk, or on a lawn, enabling a person to have the advantage of carriage exercise within sight of his own home. It should also be remembered that bath chairs are privileged to enter on any public parks and gardens from which carriages drawn by horses are excluded. Bath chairs, together with men to draw them, are generally let out on hire at livery stables. (106)



http://dickens.stanford.edu/archive/great/great_issue4gloss.htm

Michael Innes seemed to hint that a bath chair could be pushed by a member of the family and pulled by the hired help.

Can anyone come up with a picture of a bath chair?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 10:13 am
here ya go, Boss:

http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/hmm/hmm10/gifs/chair.gif

and

http://www.cityofbath.co.uk/history/bathchair.jpg

and

http://www.ju90.co.uk/sm1.jpg



To be just a little bit of a nitpicker, Jane Austen died in 1817. Alexandrina Victoria was not born until 1819. They were not contemporaries. Furthermore, "Regency" refers to the period from 1810 to 1820 during which the mental deterioration of George III was such that his son, George, Prince of Wales became George, Prince Regent.

There was actually more than one regency period in English history, but as they took place in 1381 and 1417 respectively, i assumed that this was the regency to which you referred.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 10:39 am
Sorry I wasn't clear. I consider Jane Austin "Regency" as opposed to the Victorians who were much later.

Do you think the bar in front is a steering device?

I can see how these chairs could be pushed, but pulled?

The problem with good answers is that they inspire more questions.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 10:46 am
I suspect that the bar in front (i wondered about that, as well), could be used by the rider to steer, or by someone else to pull, either way.

Although i understand that many people consider Austen to be Regency, if you read her juvinilia, you will see the origin of her subsequent themes. For example, Northhanger Abbey was published postumously; however, the main character, Catherine, first appears in Austen's juvinilia, in the "novelette," Catherine, or the Bower, c. 1797. The cattle market for marriagable young women which was so much at the heart of Austen's writing was certainly very much in evidence in the Regency Period, and in the reigns of George IV (regnit 1820-1830), William IV (regnit 1830-1837) and Victoria (regnit 1837-1901). However, one thing which most academics miss, probably because their field is literature and not history, is that the phenomenon only began in the mid 18th century, and only came to the attention of the public at large at about the time that Austen was a girl (she was born in 1775). Gothic novels were becoming popular at that time, and most of her juvinilia pokes fun at the genre.

Austen ranks up there among my top three favorite authors, and i don't make rank distinctions at that level--i've read everything she wrote of which there is a record, including her correspondence.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 11:19 am
Setanna--

Then the bar would be hinged like the handle on a little red wagon?

I have a great deal of pity for the poor Paid Companion who would be required to push while her strong-willed, imperious, elderly charge did the steering.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 11:56 am
Have you read The French Lieutenant's Woman? Nice, disgusting description in that of what paid companions might endure. I particularly remember the old woman referring to what we call dust bunnies as "slut's wool."
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 12:04 pm
http://tofino.ex.ac.uk/virvic/themes/public_services/bathobj.htm
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 12:11 pm
ehBeth--

Thanks--the mechanics are clear.

Setanta--

I heard about "sluts wool" long before Fowles wrote The French Lieutenant's Woman. My mother's family had a pechant for picturesque phrases.

The lot of a paid companion is not a happy one--particularly if the paid companion was also a member of the family.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 12:13 pm
I'm quite taken by this one

http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/item1/11205

(nice description - and a nice site, generally)

http://www.gtj.org.uk/storage/Components/186/18621_1.JPG




<am I being set up to push Noddy around New York? Confused >
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 01:24 pm
ehBeth--

If I can fit my Bath Chair on the bus, we can take turns pushing each other. A Bath Chair, like a grocery cart, is as good as a crutch.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 03:25 pm
<grin>

I'm actually quite a good chair pusher. Unless the hill is very steep - in which case, I'm more of a hanger-on-for-dear-lifer.

I once, as a very scrawny candy-striper, was given control of a hospital bed which I was to take to the emergency ramp of a local hospital so that the recumbent incumbent could see The Queen and The Prince as they drove by. We almost became part of the motorcade - the ramp was very steep. Thank goodness for beefy orderlies.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 03:47 pm
My brother fractured his fifth cervical vertebra (not intentionally, of course) in 1968, and after a year and a half in the hospital, was wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.

We would gets some beer, get high, find a steep hill, and the games would begin. He rode in an Everest & Jennings, the Rolls Royce of wheelchairs. They are built with aircraft struts, and he was tall, over six feet, so his chair was tall, and heavy. Those familiar with such chairs know that two of the struts project beyond the frame in the back--serving two purposes. They prevent the chair from tilting back beyond a certain angle, and someone pushing the chair can step down on them to tilt up the front of the chair, as in jacking the front up onto a sidewalk (no ramps or special parking spaces in those days).

There is a third use to which they can be put, as well. Joe would put on his leather gloves (to use in braking by gasping the spinning wheels), and one of us would stand on the two projecting struts at the rear, leaning forward so as to keep our weight above the center of gravity, and not tilt the chair backward. The Joe would start pushing the wheels until we got to the lip of hill, and then away we'd go.

We reached quite remarkable speeds by the bottom of the hill. As with any imperical investigation, of course, not all results were as expected. We frequently "crashed and burned" (figuratively speaking), and then would be imobilized for several minutes due to uncontrolable silly laughter.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Apr, 2005 07:07 am
Sign of the times: They now make size-and-a-half wheelchairs for the big, tall and obese.

Set--

Your brother would probably enjoy John Hockenberry's Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence.


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0786881623/qid=1114347954/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/104-3257611-0672769?v=glance&s=books

Hockenberry covered some of the Middle East ructions from a wheelchair.







--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Apr, 2005 07:08 am
Sadly, Miss Noddy, Joe is now ashes sifting to the bottom of the Atlantic.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Apr, 2005 07:32 am
Set--

Sorry to here that. Some souls don't deal well with confinement.
0 Replies
 
 

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