My thanks go out to two Lost Art Press readers for their help in transcribing and translating Johann Brotze’s 18th-century description of the Latvian bentwood chair. On the day of the original post, Peter-Christian Miest very quickly transcribed Brotze’s Cursive and the following day he provided an updated version. Over the weekend, Mattias Hallin translated the text to English.
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Brotze’s Chair Description in English
A chair, such as the Latvian farmers make from wood, without gluing or nailing even the least part of it.
The chair A presented here is made in the following manner from several parts put together. The part a b c d forms the back and the two rear legs. On the upper portion of the same, on the inner sides opposite one another by d and a, are two sets of kerfs, in order to clamp in place the board e. By b and c the wood is halfway cut out, in order to be able to bend it and clamp in place the lower piece of wood f g h i, whose both ends f and i, have been cut in such a manner, as to fit into place and be held fast at b and c. In this lower piece of wood the part k l m n with its ends k & n that make make up the front legs, is set and finally the whole together with the part o p q r that forms the seat, assembled in such a way, that one part holds the other, and none of them yield. In the part o p q r and also l m four kerfs are made towards the inside, which go in deep enough, to hold in place the seat s. And this assembly gives a firm, immutable and durable stool.
You can read, or reread, the original post here.
Peter Follansbee provided a link concerning the knutkorg (“knot basket”), which certainly seems to be the precursor to the bentwood chair. You can find that here.
Once again, thank you Peter-Christian and Mattias!