These oak stools have been variously described as "joint-stools," and even, lugubriously, as "coffin-stools." They were, really, the guest-seats at table, and in many cases they were exactly proportioned so as to fit between the framing and the stretcher-rail of tables, and were evidently intended to be so stacked away when not in use. Low stools, for the use of children, were also made in numbers, sometimes fitted with a box below the seat as in Fig. 284. These low stools sometimes had the centre of the top cut out with a hand-hole, so that they could be readily lifted and carried from place to place.
Fig. 283. Oak Stool.
Fig. 284. Oak Box Stool. - Height, 14 ins.; width, 17 ins.; depth, 13 ins. c. 1640. - C. 1630. H. Clifford Smith, Esq.
Fig. 285. Oak Stool.
Fig. 286. Pine Stool Table. - Height, 21 ins.; width, 23 ins.; depth, 18 ins. c. 1660-70. - C. 1620. H. Clifford Smith, Esq.
Fig. 287. Oak Stool. - C. 1630.
Fig. 288. - C. 1630. Bond's Hospital, Coventry.
Fig. 289. - Oak Stools.
Fig. 290. Oak Stool. - Western Type. c. 1660-70.
Fig. 291. Oak Stool. - Western Type. c. 1630. - C. 1640-50. H. Clifford Smith, Esq.
Fig. 292. Oak Stool.
Fig. 293. Oak Stool. - Midland Type. c. 1640. W. Smedley Aston, Esq.
The one drawback to the arranging of English furniture into types such as chairs, tables, chests, and the like, is that pieces which bridge these categories are difficult to include. Thus Fig. 286 here is really a stool-table, and we have already had examples of table-chairs in this chapter.
Two interesting examples of cupboard stools are given here in Figs. 294 and 295 as a conclusion to this chapter. Their periods are uncertain, but the first is not later than the close of the sixteenth century (and even then, is copied from a still earlier type), while the second dates from the last quarter of the seventeenth. Both are instructive in showing these bridge-pieces which were made during a space of over a century, in numbers too small to establish any fashion. Pieces of exceptional character are always difficult to date, for this reason. Made for special purposes, sporadically, they follow no established mode of the time, and are nearly as likely to create a new manner as to copy one long disused.
Fig. 295. Oak Cupboard Stools. - Late sixteenth century. - Late seventeenth century. - W. Smedley Aston, Esq.
The development of the English oak chair has now been taken past the period when walnut superseded oak, in a great measure, as the fashionable wood for furniture. Actually, to follow a chronological order, walnut chairs of Restoration type should have been inserted in this procession of oak examples. Fig. 239, for example, as we have seen, is late, and carries us well into the walnut years. In practice, however, this would have rendered the whole scheme of this chapter incoherent. Even to have illustrated the oak chairs, shown here, in the progression of their date, instead of in a manner to enable similar and dissimilar types to be compared or contrasted, would have resulted in an orderly arrangement of chapter, but at the cost of a sacrifice of clearness of explanation. English chairs develop not from one, but from many sources, and proceed on widely divergent lines. For this reason, chairs are much more heterogenous in character and in evolution than is the case with other pieces of English furniture, and this is true, not only of the seventeenth, but the eighteenth century as well.