HISTORIC UPHOLSTERY: A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON TREATMENT
Intensive examination of the materials is required to understand and discover an object's history. This evidence can then be used to reconstruct the original aesthetic intent of the piece if it is appropriate to do so.
Analysis is an especially important step for seat furniture that no longer retains upholstery materials. It is possible, however, to uncover many facts regarding a piece through thorough examination. Vegetable matter and therefore region of production can be identified if any flower is left in the stuffing; fade marks in an original finish on the back post of a chair can reveal original height of the upholstery; the number and size and shape of holes in the wood frame can help determine upholstery technique that influenced the original form; and so on.
An upholstered object can be difficult to evaluate because it can incorporate so many different components and several generations and qualities of repair and restoration. Condition is always a variable component of examination. Current conservation practices dictate that preservation of historical material, including evidence, remain a top priority of treatment.