A Late Victorian Mahogany Adjustable Reading Stand by John Carter, 64 New Cavendish Street. London
A late Victorian Mahogany adjustable reading stand with ivorine plaque for John Carter “Carter’s literary machine” of 64 New Cavendish Street, Portland Square, London.
Ingenious contraptions such as these were being retailed by both John Carter and Leveson & Son during the mid to late nineteenth century and they comprise of a counterbalanced base on castors with a ratchet mechanism integral to the turned column support allowing for height adjustment. The top is attached to the column by means of an iron plate (stamped with Carter) and brass wingnuts to allow for the mahogany top to be tilted to the sitters preferred position. Included in the top is a reading stand to either side of the table presumably to allow it to be used either way round (rather than for two sitters).
It would seem that the term literary machine was a common term for many of Carter’s inventions which is why most have the phrase on their maker’s plaques. Other versions were made from brass tubing with cast iron bases and came with numerous articulated attachments for lamps and reading stands. An amusing picture of lady using Carter’s products is provided with an advert for the period.