Two different types of furniture can be called “Davenport”, and they are not necessarily related. The term “davenport” is most commonly used in America to describe a large, boxy sofa. Still, it can also refer to any piece of upholstered furniture large enough for a person to sit on comfortably. A Davenport style of the writing desk is also available in Britain and in antique shops that are specialized in Victorian furniture.
Does that sound confusing? We get it. That’s why we are here to explain what a davenport is. Continue reading to find out more about each piece of furniture and the history behind the Davenport name.
What is a Davenport?
A davenport is most commonly used to refer to large lounger sofas in North America. Instead, the British term davenport means writing desk. The original name for a series of sofas by A. H. Davenport and Company in Massachusetts was “Davenport”. It was a very popular model, so the name was retained to describe the furniture piece.
What is a Davenport Couch and how do you define it?
The A.H. Davenport & Company, Cambridge, Massachusetts designed and constructed the original Davenport sofa. Davenport & Co. was established in the middle of the 19th century. They manufactured upscale furniture and custom-made furniture for many prominent buildings. The company was most famously associated with McKim, Mead, and White, a prominent architecture firm, during renovations to The White House under Theodore Roosevelt.
The Davenport Furniture Company created the Davenport Sofa in the late 1800s. It featured a boxy, rectangular design and was fully upholstered. The name “Davenport”, which is trademarked under the Kleenex and Q-Tips brands, became synonymous with all couches.
Although the Davenport sofa was extremely popular, the name of the sofa that it refers to changed. Davenport sofas are large, comfortable, and upholstered. This is why the term “Davenport”, was used to describe sleeper couches.
The name Davenport was a common synonym for sofas. It could also be used to refer to sofas with little or no resemblances to the original design. It could be a futon-style sofa with storage drawers built into its base. The term Davenport was used in some parts of the country to refer to higher-end couches meant for formal living or sitting rooms.
Although the term Davenport is no longer used in modern times, it is still part of New England and Midwest regional slang. It’s still used primarily by people older than 60 who are nostalgic for the Davenport sofas from the early-to-mid 20th century.
What is a Davenport Desk and how do you use it?
In the late 18th century, Davenport desks were first made in Great Britain. Gillows of Lancaster in London was commissioned to make the first Davenport desk. Although details about Captain Davenport’s personal life and first name are lost, it is known that he was the ship captain, hence the desk’s nickname “ship captain’s desk”.
Although they resemble the old slanted school desks, Davenport desks have many more features and are larger than those. Davenports feature a sloping writing surface attached to the frame by hinges. Lifting the desktop will reveal a large compartment that can store paper and other writing supplies. There are also small drawers and pigeonholes to store additional items like ink or fasteners. Original Davenport desks had writing surfaces covered in leather.
Additional storage is available in the Davenport desk’s drawers and cabinets located on one side. These cupboards can be hidden by a decorative panel. These areas are the back of the desk and support its bulk. Two legs, or pillars, support the front of the desk. These pillars are often carved with intricate designs. Davenport desks have casters on the bottom to make them easy to move around.