May is Museum Month and in celebration Westfield is pulling some items from our artifact collection to show off. Even during the pandemic over 700 museums, galleries and heritage sites will be participating in their own way to recognize Museum Week which runs May 11 to May 17. This year’s theme is very appropriate – togetherness. First up is a wicker chair.
This past year Westfield was given a Victorian wicker chair in marvelous condition. This chair looks to be from the late 1890’s. There are ones that are very much like it in the Eaton’s catalogue of that time. There were several factories in Canada producing this kind of furniture at the time and they typically followed the trend setting designs of the Heywood-Wakefield company of Massachusetts, USA. These chairs were not cheap. A “Ladies’ reception chair” like ours went for $6.00 in 1894 when a loaf of bread was 3 cents.
It’s important distinction to differentiate the terms “Wicker” from “Ratan”. Ratan is name of the vine-like plant from which the furniture is made. Wicker is actually the name of the weaving method used in its construction. Our chair is mostly made of Reed, not Ratan. It’s going to appear in the Gillen House small parlor, beside the player piano.