Deck Chair

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As the Summer swelter continues, up goes an impassioned plea “Lead me to my deck chair!!”.

The humble deck chair ….Perhaps? Or the well travelled ship’s “deck chair” – if this linen and teak could talk imagine the gossip it holds – from a Golden Era of luxury transatlantic ocean liner travel. Or the End of The Pier, seagull serenaded, fish and chips frying, spearmint rock munching of Brighton, Cromer or Southend – the World’s longest.

Called a Lawn Chair in the US, the Deck Chair has an illustrious history. It was the victim of some on board snobbery. Around the turn of the 20th century, first class passengers would typically enjoy the padded loveliness of a “Steamer” deck chair -Port Out Starboard Home – their legs raised and clad in a woolen rug, invariably sipping broth, if the climate demanded, whilst more lowly passengers would enjoy their trip on a slung hammock canvas and teak deck chair that could be positioned to follow the sun around the deck and be folded for easy stowage.

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The origins of the folding chair has its history in Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. More recently, patents were obtained in the 1880’s in the US and UK for the classic steamer chair. R Holman & Co of Boston (Mass) were the manufactures of the Steamer Deck Chairs that graced the deck of the SS Titanic. Of the 600 supplied only six survived – below is a shot of one.

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There is some debate as to the precise origins of the more rudimentary wooden framed version. Primarily it comprises two rectangualar wooden frames, hinged, with an adjustable back piece and a single length of canvas forming the seat and backrest. Some sources  attribute it to a British inventor, Atkins, in the late 19th Century whereas others credit its design to being similar to “The Yankee Hammock Chair” as advertised in 1882.  The name “Brighton Beach Chair” also seems to predate our currently understood use of “Deck Chair”.

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In my Grandmother’s house in Hertfordshire – I think it was 1976 – she had a row of Edwardian faded green canvas chairs which not only had arms and a footrest but also a large sun canopy that flapped in whatever pathetic excuse for a breeze we had that summer. I recall that the covers perished quite frequently and the local nurseryman supplied rolls of 18” wide canvass to restring your chair. The look was completed by a white parasol, two Lloyd Loom chairs – see our previous post here – Lloyd Loom Chairs – and a bentwood table covered in a circular linen tablecloth with a jug of iced lemonade and tall glasses covered in weighted net – to avoid the flies.

Similar products are still made today by people such as Southsea Deckchairs Southsea Deckchairs

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Images used with grateful thanks – Southsea Dechairs and The V&A Museum

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Mason Pearson and G B Kent & Sons

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For a man with minimal hair my need for a brush may at first blush seem limited. That is until you look at the beautiful brushes produced by companies such as Mason Pearson and G B Kent & Sons – there are things in life that I can appreciate even without the need to use them!

Just looking at the intracy of persuading a pure boar bristle to stay mounted to a fine wooden handle and to remain attached for many years of grooming. These brushes are not only iconic but they seem devilishly complicated to make – and even more so as some are hand-made.

Somewhere deep in childhood I seem to have, incorrectly, understood, in a routined pink for a girl blue for a boy kind of way, that Mason Pearson made brushes for women whereas Kent made brushes for men. In fact, both companies have extensive ranges for men, women and children – as well as specialist brushes. My Grandmother had a large pure boar bristle Mason Pearson brush and my wife and daughters each have a medium sized Mason Pearson. My Father, who had a distinguished military career prior to commerce, always had a Kent brush – that I think may have been military issue – on his bathroom mirror shelf an in his travel case.

Mason Pearson Brushes was founded in 1860 by a Bradford (Yorkshire, UK) Engineer of the same name who, having had some experience in the weaving business left, with his young wife Mary, for London’s East End to work with brushes. His automation of much of the brush making process resulted in 1885 in Mason being awarded a Silver Medal at the International Inventions Exhibition in London. In the same year his invention of the “pneumatic” rubber-cushion hairbrush became core Mason Pearson product and with some redevelopment between 1905  and 1920’s the resulting 1885 brush sold today is little changed since its first launch.

On Mason’s death Mary, eldest son Mason Jnr and his sisters ran the business for a further twenty years from premises off the Old Ford Road (London E3). In 1986 the business relocated to Stratford but moved in 2009 to give way for the London Olympics that resulted in a move to Rainham in Essex. The business is still owned by the Pearson family and continues to thrive.

The pure bristle versions of the iconic Mason Pearson brush come in several sizes. I understand that for the bedroom/bathroom the B1 and B2 sizes are preferred whereas for the handbag the B3 – the “handy” size – and the B4 – the “pocket” size – are perfect.  Get your favourite by clicking the AMAZON link below the image of your choice

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Mason Pearson Extra Large Pure Boar Bristle Hair Brush B1- Made in England

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Mason Pearson B2 Medium Pure Boar Bristle Fine Hair Brush, Cleaner in Gift Box

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Mason Pearson Brushes Pure Bristle Handy B3 Black

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MASON PEARSON Pocket Size Pure Bristle Hair Brush (Model:B4)

G.B Kent & Sons Ltd, was founded in 1777 by William Kent and has, very impressively, held unbroken Royal Warrants for now nine reigns. In 1932 the company was acquired by Eric Cosby, the owner of Cosby Brushes Ltd. It was a dynamic and creative alliance. Today Eric’s grandson, Alan, is Managing Director and Chairman and his wife and four children work for the business.

Kent Brushes moved from its old London factory – as seen depicted in the videos below –  to Apsley (Hertfordshire, UK) in 1984 and remains there today. The companies reputation is based on its craftsmanship and quality combining hand-made techniques with the latest hi-tech developments in brush making.

Kent iconic brushes are known in the barbering trade as the “lifetimes brush”!

For me, there are two clear and different buying options for the prospective Kent brush purchaser. It’s true, that they look similar – but for the tell-tale screw fixed back – but the first is 100% hand-made progressing through different processes to arrive at the definitive men’s hair brush:

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Kent Handmade Military Oval Bristle Hairbrush for Men White

The alternative is a largely machine made version but just as appealing:

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Kent Oval Military Style Bristle Brush for Men, Cherry Wood White

There are many men who have a beard and the perfect accompanient to their grooming regime is the Kent Beard Brush – this is a right handed version.

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Get yours here – Kent Right Handed Beard Brush

Check out the following charming videos from KENT Kent Brushes 1 And Kent Brushes 2

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Image credits – thanks to Mason Pearson and G.B Kent and Sons Plc.