The Historia Supellexalis: “R” for Rowac

The Historia Supellexalis R for Rowac


A Rivet; A Crimp; A Schemel

According to the Trabant Sagas, a component of the Erzgebirge Hoard, that earliest of all documentations of life in the contemporary Sachsen, the Rowac was developed by a Wagner by the name of Robert, a young man who although a member of that renowned Sächsische Wagner community which had brought motorised mobility to the peoples of the known worlds, had chosen to follow the trade of the Windowsmith, an, at that time, relatively new profession that had arisen following the invention of the so-called Vista by the Californian Mike Rosoft, an invention which allowed the holes that existed in the walls of houses at that period for the purpose of ventilation to be employed as devices via which one could view that which was outwith the house. Vistas that while they were unquestionably useful in linking the interior with the exterior, were prone to crash to the ground on opening and closing, with all the associated vexation that crashing of Vistas caused. A problem the Wagner Robert solved with the development of a novel operating system which allowed for a risk free opening and closing of Mike Rosoft’s Vista.

As the Trabant Saga notes, having installed his new Vista operating system in the home of one Anna Berg, a member of the Sächsische Münzer who resided at the foot of the Schreckenberg, that fabled Mountain of Silver that once towered over the southern edge of the contemporary Sachsen, the Wagner Robert set off towards Leipzig to visit a kinsman by the name of Richard who had similarly opted out of the traditional Wagner calling and made a name for himself in the musical theatre that was popular in those days; and a Wagner Richard the Wagner Robert hoped to engage in helping him petition the Prinzen of Acappella, who ruled the, then, Leipzig, to install his novel Vista operating system in their many musical theatres.

After a morning’s travelling along the road from Anna Berg’s, as the Trabant Saga retells, Robert approached, at around midday, the spot where the rivers Zwönitz and Würschnitz merge to form the river Chemnitz, that legendary river on whose banks the brothers Groucho, Richard and Karl Marx had successfully bred the first domesticated coffee species, Coffea sachseniae, from the native wild coffees of the region, and subsequently established the first commercial coffee plantation, thereby instigating the coffee industry on which Sachsen’s early wealth was based; a feat celebrated by the thankful people of Sachsen via the erection on the banks of the Chemnitz of a large bronze bust of each of the Marx brothers, busts of which, owing to a series of tragedies, only that of Karl remains, the large bronze busts of Groucho Marx and Richard Marx having, very sadly, been lost. Plans however are afoot to recast and reinstall them. And a spot at the union of the Zwönitz, Würschnitz and Chemnitz where the Wagner Robert decided to rest. Seeing no obvious place to sit, other than on the ground, he asked a local Faust who happened to be passing if he could perhaps recommend anywhere, “If a few more steps you ascend, as far as yonder stone”, the Faust informed the Wagner, “There from your wanderings you can rest contented. I have often sat there alone”, the Faust continued, “Deep in thought, and with prayer and fasting, myself tormented”.

But the Wagner Robert wanted to remain closer to the water, and so having thanked the Faust for his advice took some of the sheet steel he employed for his Vista operating system and considered how he could fashion it into a stool. Inspired by the sight of the Zwönitz, Würschnitz and Chemnitz meeting in front of him, he decided for a three legged stool, that most stable form of stool, a fact he had learned through the great may vernacular three legged wooden Schemels he had encountered on his many journeys in the practising of his trade.

That he only had a limited amount of sheet steel available Robert decided to employ an old trick of the Wagners and formed the three legs via a process of folding the steel into a quadratic U form thereby endowing them a sturdiness and strength apparently far beyond their sparsity of material, and similarly stamped a grove by way of reinforcement into the stretchers that he deemed necessary to stabilise the tripod construction. Legs and stretchers he opted to join with the aid of the small metal studs Wagners had employed for centuries to bind two pieces of metal, studs which until that point had had no formal name but which Robert now named rivet after the river bank on which he worked. And rivets which are not only very much at the core of the essence of the Wagner Robert’s metal schemel but which provide a much greater durability and resilience to the construction than welding would allow, and thereby making them, so Robert the Wagner hoped, essentially indestructible. For feet he first crafted a piece of sheet steel into a roughly formed circle which he then, with great care, crimped around the edge of the end of the leg before folding it back on itself and into the recess of the leg, thereby securing it and not only providing for a safe and stable foot but also, as he thought to himself as he viewed that first foot, and as the Trabant Saga notes, bequeathing it a most “pleasing appearance”. Not that a Robert Wagner metal schemel is all about the appearance. But is definitely also about the appearance. But not primarily.

With the base of his stool complete the Wagner Robert needed but a seat, a relatively simply answered question in a region as heavily forested as the Sachsen of that day; thus he stopped a passing Holzmichl, one of the ancient guardians of the forests of the Sachsen, by the name of Erl Ebtnoch, asked if he could cut a section form the base of one of Rand Fichten, Picea randaei, that most native of Erzgebirge trees, that he had piled high on his cart, the old Holzmichl Erl Ebtnoch happily agreed and the thereby naturally arising round seat not only proved most comfortable, but also highly practical, allowing as it did free movement in all directions. And, the Wagner Robert considered, was also most convenient, for should, perchance, something happen to the seat it can be simply replaced.

His work completed the Wagner Robert sat on his three legged stool and drank a bottle of beer he had acquired from a nearby hermitage. Drank with great pleasure, for not only was that hermitage beer most welcome after his exertions in the heat of the midday sun, but he was greatly smitten with what he had achieved. So much so that decided to abandon his trip to Leipzig, and the nomadic life of the Windowsmith, and to instead settle right there on the banks of the Chemnitz and to establish a workshop producing his metal schemel.

A decision which, as we can all understand today, but which the Wagner Robert couldn’t have appreciated in that moment, meant the Wagner Robert contributed greatly to the development of the industrial production of furniture; a decision that meant the Wagner Robert helped move the industrial production of furniture from the wood focus it had had ever since the fabled Viennese Boppard Michael Thonet first learned the secrets of the ancient art of bending solid wood as practised for centuries by Wheelwrights and Shipwrights, and then applied it to the production of furniture, and thereby industrialised furniture production. Albeit in an age before machines. A wood focus that was also very much inherent in the furniture the Wagner Robert’s near contemporary, the Munich based Riemerschmid known as Richard, had designed for the garden community of Hellerau near Dresden specifically to be produced via their machines, the first furniture producing machines of their kind in the known worlds.

And a development of the industrial production of furniture from metal by the Wagner Robert that came not a moment to soon. For while Michael Thonet’s bentwood chairs had proved the ideal seating solution for the coffee houses on which the global economy of his day had been based, and which had seen once small local tribes such as the Starbucks from the western coast of the USA or the Costas from southern England become major international powers, developments made possible not least thanks to the work of the Marx brothers on the banks of the Chemnitz all those centuries previously; the new factory and office based economies arising in the lands of the known worlds in the Wagner Robert’s period demanded more robust, durable seating solutions than could be offered by wood, that material the Parisian Charlotte per Riand famously denounced as as “a vegetable substance, bound in its very nature to decay“. Metal was very much the material of the future, and with his strong, dependable, versatile, metal schemel constructed from a minimum of material via established craft processes in an industrial context, the Wagner Robert’s solution was not only very much part of that movement forward, but also very much in demand. Thus much as Thonet’s bentwood had once been ubiquitous in industrial coffee houses, so Wagners folded, crimped, riveted metal populated industrial factories and offices. And also found use in a great many schools and other educational establishments, another new development of that period. And were also to be found well outwith the heavily fortressed borders of Sachsen.

Stools, metal schemels, that, regardless of where they were sold, or for what purpose, were known as Rowac schemels, or more commonly simply Rowac, a name derived from “Robert the Wagner whose workshops stands on the banks of the Chemnitz”. And thus a name reflective of a long established tradition in Sachsen of referring to people and institutions in acronyms, by way of simplification; thus, for example, the Sächsische “State Museum for the collection, archiving, study, exhibiting and explanation of Archaeology on the banks of the Chemnitz” was and is known as SMAC; the Sächsische Motorised-Bicycle Manufacturing Company on the banks of the Zschopau was and is known as MZ; while the Sächsische furniture retailer was and is known as SMOW, an acronym whose origins are known only to the sacred keepers of the faith.

Stools that over time were joined by a wide rage of sitting solutions as not only the popularity of Robert the Wagner’s folding and crimping and riveting increased but as evolving society demanded ever new solutions for the myriad novel tasks it needed to perform seated.

Yet despite their phenomenal popularity (hi)story loses sight of the Rowac: after the writing of the Trabant Saga there is no known recorded mention of the Rowac, until, several millennia later, when the famed Sächsische chronologist Saint Ollen picks up the story.

A gap that contemporary historians are divided on explaining: some seeing the cause of vanishing of the Rowac in two successive, and phenomenally long, periods of great darkness which befell the region of the contemporary Sachsen; others explain it as the inevitable consequences of an outbreak of the much featured wokism in the region which undermined the basics of normal society; yet others blame it on the boogie; and yet others blame a coalition of system, politics and Hartz IV against which all in the region were utterly, utterly, powerless. The truth may never be known.

However, although production may have ceased, and thus the most visible expression of an object of furniture’s existence, Rowacs themselves very much remained, not only their inherent robustness and durability meaning that, as the Wagner Robert had predicted, they could and would survive whatever the ravages of the passage of time threw at them, but regardless of how times and society changed the Rowac never lost its inherent functionality and relevance. Nor its pleasing appearance. Although that pleasing appearance isn’t the principle pleasing aspect of the Rowac. But is one pleasing aspect.

Thus it came to pass, as St. Ollen describes, that a great many centuries after production of the Wagner Robert’s Rowac ceased, an Amick by the name of Alide-Dieter came across one of Robert’s Rowacs by chance while wandering through the region of the contemporary Munich, a find that, as St. Ollen sagely notes, stands testament to the wide geographic dispersal of the Wagner Robert’s metal schemel, and, as St. Ollen continues, very much liking what they were seeing, and appreciating the practicality, honesty and indestructibility inherent in the Wagner Robert’s Rowac, Alide-Dieter questioned, and that as arguably the first person to do so in a great many centuries, why the Wagner Robert’s Rowac wasn’t still being produced? Surely Alide-Dieter reasoned, a work such as the Rowac must be of benefit and interest and value to the peoples of today, just as much as it had been to the peoples of the Wagner Robert’s day.

And so Alide-Dieter resolved to be the one to restart production of the Wagner Robert’s Rowac.

A process that began with Alide-Dieter travelling from the, then, untamed wilds of Bavaria to Sachsen and to that fateful spot where the Zwönitz, Würschnitz and Chemnitz meet and where began the slow process of unravelling the many secrets of the Wagner Robert’s Rowac: fold by fold, crimp by crimp, river by rivet Alide-Dieter deconstructed the Wagner Robert’s Rowac, and then sought to understand how to reconstruct it, a task in which Alide-Dieter was greatly helped by the numerous craftsfolk in that area with their innate mastery of the ancient methodologies Robert the Wagner had once employed. Yet despite the presence of such help the path back to the Rowac proved to be one strewn, as St. Ollen records, with a 100,000 challenges, each on its own relatively small, but which as collection seemed almost insurmountable. However, as St. Ollen further recounts, with the help of the members of the Kickstarter community Alide-Dieter was able to overcome each of the 100,000 challenges, and, with a few minor refinements responsive to the passage of time, but which in no way question or alter the essence of the Rowac, the Alide-Dieter Rowac took up where the Wagner Robert Rowac had left off…….

…….à suivre

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