Find of the Week: A Fancy Sofa and the J. & J. W. Meeks Furniture Company

 

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA-- Every Friday we team up with the Historic New Orleans Collection to bring you the story of a unique artifact from our city's past.

If it's good quality it's built to last; simple as that!  One sofa has lasted well beyond the 19th century.

It is a beautiful emerald green sofa made by the J. & J. W. Meeks Furniture company that was based in New York.

"It is here at our history galleries in New Orleans because it has underneath it, a paper label from 23 Chartres Street in New Orleans," says decorative arts curator, Lydia Blackmore.

J. & J.W. Meeks made some of the most luxurious, high-end furniture of the 19th century and some of their best clients were in New Orleans.

Black more tells the story saying, "starting in the 1820's they opened warehouses here in New Orleans to sell their fashionable goods to the customers of the gulf south."

The sofa was made between 1836 and 1839.

It is in a beautiful grecian plane style with these carved fans on the side and almost a swan-necked loop.  It also features mahogany trim  and was newly reupholstered with emerald velvet by the Historic New Orleans Collection.  They chose that fabric and color because they have pictures of similar couches from the Meeks company.

It was made for the comfort of someone of societal position right down to it's soft innards!

Lydia Blackmore says that good furniture of the 19th century was sometimes stuffed with "horse hair, hogs hair or moss.  Sometimes in lesser quality chair you find really rough stuff in them like mattresses filled with corn husks and straw."

This sofa had springs in it's cushion which was a rather new invention in the early 20th century.  It made furniture much more supportive and comfortable.

Lydia Blackmore says no furniture in the Historic New Orleans Collection is allowed to be sat on.  However, she also mentioned that despite the springs, the couch wouldn't be very comfortable today, because of its straight and styled backing.

Make sure you tune in every week to see what we bring you from the Historic New Orleans Collection on News With a Twist during our six o'clock broadcast.