Two main chair patterns had developed in Scotland during the 19th century: the ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Glasgow’ patterns. The ‘Edinburgh’ pattern was typified by a cursive top rail, fluidly shaped and attached to the back or stile either at the base or partway up the back. The rear legs were usually square and plain and splayed rearwards while the front legs were sometimes turned or shaped in other ways. This example is one of a pair of ‘Edinburgh’ chairs made out of manuka by John Black who came to Dunedin from Aberdeen on the Blundell (the same vessel as John Hill whose ‘Glasgow’ style of chair can be seen on the other side of the room) in 1848 and settled in North East Valley. He is listed as a cabinet maker, wheelwright and carpenter on the passenger list but chose farming instead of his trade in Otago and only made furniture for his own household. The lack of stretchers in the surviving chairs suggest that they were not subject to hard every day use and it is likely that they were the Black family’s best chairs.
John Black