As eighteenth-century English printers produced increasing numbers of books and members of the upper classes read more, the private study or library and its furnishings became an important part of the domestic interior. This chair is one of the earliest examples of specialized furniture with functions specific to reading. Designed so a male reader could sit astride facing the adjustable book ledge, the chair features a candle holder in one arm and a tray for writing implements in the other. Curiously, this form also became known as a “cockfight” chair, and was depicted in illustrations of cockfights. One possible reason is that the chair allowed managers to safely sit, bird in hand, with the padded back protecting the user’s chest.

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