Industrial Revolution furniture has its own sense of charm and purpose. Its design ranges from the grand to the mundane. In fact, the Industrial Revolution was the first time that furniture was mass-produced so that the much of the population could receive cheap, standardised furniture. However, quality standards were lower than they are today for much of this new furniture.
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The conditions of the Industrial Revolution were ideal for the furniture industry to take off. The middle class first emerged with the purchasing power to drive the growth of the industry. Secondly, refined materials such as lumber, rubber and glass were created in mass quantities that could be supplied to factories with large production schedules. Lastly, transportation speeds increased while costs decreased with the introduction of the railroad and advanced sea transport. For example, Jamestown, New York, gave birth to a number of companies including Jamestown Seat Company, Sherman Brothers Lounge Company, and the Breed Johnson Company due to the city's location on the Chadokin River.
New advances in factory equipment also helped to propel the industry and make great strides in speed and cost. Factories now used band saws, slash saws, shapers and planers to rapidly construct new equipment. They also employed systematised labour that could produce more than ever before in a shorter time period. However, electric equipment did not emerge until after the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution also featured innovations in material and new types of furniture. Wicker was chief among these new types of products. Furniture companies experimented by mass-producing and selling tea carts, smoking stands, blanket chests and rolling chairs. As they first rolled off the line, they were sold in prominent tourist locations such as Atlantic City, New Jersey, where crowds gathered to learn about the new products.
Other Wood Furniture
New types of wood furniture emerged as new regions of supply from around the world were discovered. Sturdier oak material was used for tables, cupboards, desks and drawers. Walnut timber was also used for furniture that served more aesthetic than practical purposes. While walnut has a warm colour and appearance, it is less sturdy and is not very durable.
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