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Furniture - Furniture Accessories

( Originally Published 1931 )

There is one group of furniture accessories which requires special consideration. This group comprises mattresses, pillows, and bedsprings. They are the great paradoxes because the test of their success is their ability to make one unconscious of them.

A most important point to remember in buying beds and bedding is to select pieces of standardized dimensions. The furniture industry has been cursed with a multiplicity of sizes and shapes in beds and, consequently, in springs and mattresses. Now, thanks to the leadership of the Department of Commerce, the manufacturers are beginning to agree on certain dimensions which are coming to be accepted as standard for the various sizes of beds and bedding. The result is that selection of a standardized piece protects your investment; for you can replace spring or mattress at any time, or you can use these accessories in any other standard bed frame.

Bed Springs: There are two kinds: coil and link. Those of the link type are in reality a metal fabric of woven wire, cable wire, or link, which is stretched on a frame shaped to fit the bed. Link springs necessarily produce a hammock-like effect with at least a slight sag where the weight comes, and it is for this reason that they are considered by many to be less desirable than the coil type where the support is direct. Coil springs are self-descriptive; they are composed of steel wire coils set at close intervals on a frame and tied down by heavy twine to reduce the amount of "play" in them. If frame and coils are covered with ticking, they are called box springs. Every person has his own conception of the proper amount of rigidity or play in bedsprings, and the best way to select a satisfactory spring is to bear down on it with the hands and test the springiness. A bedspring is a standard article which is uninfluenced by style changes but which is usually sold with the bed. It therefore is an important factor in determining the value of a bed as on its comfortableness depends in large measure the satisfaction which the bed will give.

Mattresses : The test of a mattress is in its filling. This, in order of merit, may be either horsehair, kapok, felt in layers, or cotton. These in turn are subdivided into grades in which the best of an inferior filling over-laps a medium or indifferent product of a grade generally considered superior. Thus a China-felt mattress may be every bit as good as a second-rate kapok. Weight is no indication of excellence as a high-grade horsehair or kapok mattress will weigh less than a cotton one.

Horsehair is considered the best mattress filler be-cause this hair retains its springiness almost indefinitely. Good horsehair mattresses are frequently handed down from generation to generation, only the ticking or outer covering of cotton cloth being renewed from time to time. Horsehair is graded in order of excellence as white (the best), extra long, medium, and short curly. In all grades it is supposed to be sterilized before being made up into mattresses.

Kapok is a silky vegetable fiber much finer than cot-ton. It grows in oblong pods in Africa, where the natives have long used it for bedding, and is imported in the pod. Here the fiber is subjected to an elaborate cleaning and separating process by means of blowers which force out the seeds and all foreign matter and leave the fiber in a fluffy condition. In the inferior mattresses of the kapok type, this blowing process has been poorly done or may even have been entirely neglected.

Kapok filling is particularly desirable in a damp climate as it is a quick drier and will throw off ordinary moisture in three or four hours. It is not so durable as horsehair, as it will begin to lose its resiliency and to pack after four or five years; but it makes a comfortable bed and is clean and in every way desirable while it does last. It is well adapted to use at the seashore.

Both felt and cotton mattresses have a cotton filling. In the former case the fiber is felted into strips which are laid in layers. When well done this makes a serviceable mattress, but it is not so resilient as the better grades of horsehair or kapok. Loose cotton is used as the filling for the cheaper mattresses, and here the relative value depends upon the care with which the fiber has been cleaned and shredded.

In addition to these usual types there is the inner spring mattress, the proponents of which place it at or very near the top of the list. This mattress filling consists of a layer of coil springs between top and bottom layers of cotton felt or hair. The claim is made that even the best hair filling will pack eventually and that the best kapok will finally become powder; whereas the coil springs will keep their resiliency indefinitely.

Ticking is the covering or bag which holds the filling and gives the mattress its shape. The standard is an eight ounce cotton duck firmly stitched with linen thread and reŽnforced with double stitching at all seams. In a well-made mattress the filling is stuffed into the ticking in sections about four inches square and each section is sewed into place by stout thread which passes through both top and bottom of the ticking and is pulled taut. This keeps the filling evenly distributed and thus maintains the shape of the mattress. Where the thread passes through the outer surfaces of the ticking it is covered by a button-shaped piece of white cotton which is called a tuft. In a well-tufted mat-tress the tufts will be deeply indented and will be directly opposite each other on the top and bottom sides of the mattress. Sometimes the cheaper mat-tresses are not really tufted at all, although tufts may be sewn to the surface of the ticking to make the pre-tense that the mattress has been properly filled and tufted. This pretense is easily caught by the experienced shopper, because in such cases there are little or no indentations where the tufts come.

Pillows : Here again it is the filling that counts, and as a result the choice of comfortable pillows presents in miniature much the same problem as the selection of a good mattress. There are some persons who like and want a thin, hard pillow, which is best obtained in a horsehair filling, but for most of us the excellence of a pillow is based on its soft plumpness. Here the order of merit in fillings is (1) down, the soft, fleecy undercoat of a goose; (2) goose feathers, with stems; (3) duck feathers, and thereafter various combinations of the above. Chicken feathers are stiff with strong ribs and sharp ends and do not make a comfortable pillow; from time to time shoppers ask for chicken feather pillows but many of the better class stores refuse to carry any in stock. The standard pillow bag is a 6-ounce ticking.

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