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Orianna2000
01-10-2012, 08:18 PM
Does anyone out there have an old-fashioned feather mattress? Something that might have been used in the 1880s. I'm trying to describe a scene where a wife is joined in bed by her husband for the first time, and she's hyper-aware of every movement. But I've never slept on a feather bed, so I don't know what it would feel like for her.

With a spring bed, the whole mattress vibrates and dips toward the person getting in, then equalizes once they stop moving and their weight is evenly distributed. But would it be the same for a feather bed? Would the whole bed shake? Would she feel the mattress dip on his side as he gets in? Would there be some other kind of movement?

Any help at all will be appreciated.

Puma
01-10-2012, 09:04 PM
No feather mattress but I grew up with feather pillows. My memory is that they were hard and not easy to conform to the sleeper's face. Feather quills frequently poked through the covering material and were ouchy (fun to pull them out though and have the whole feather attached). Puma

Drachen Jager
01-10-2012, 09:33 PM
I slept on one a couple of times. It doesn't vibrate or anything, just imagine folding, or piling a feather duvet 4-5x. It just kind of sags where you lie on it, they don't give great support. I found it very uncomfortable compared to a foam or spring bed.

IceCreamEmpress
01-10-2012, 10:00 PM
It dips and slants. There isn't much resilience, so no bounce or anything. Try mocking it up with two dolls and a feather pillow.

Drachen Jager
01-10-2012, 10:29 PM
It dips and slants. There isn't much resilience, so no bounce or anything. Try mocking it up with two dolls and a feather pillow.

Video tape it if you do so you can share with the class. ;)

Orianna2000
01-10-2012, 11:00 PM
Unfortunately, I haven't any feather pillows, so I can't play out the scene with my dolls. . . . ;) But just knowing that it doesn't bounce helps. I'll probably just say that the bed dipped as he settled down. Thanks!

Chase
01-10-2012, 11:05 PM
According to Henry J. Deutschendorf, Junior, "It was nine feet tall and six feet wide, soft as a downy chick. It was made from the feathers of forty-íleven geese [and] took a whole bolt of cloth for the tick. It'd hold eight kids 'n' four hound dogs and a piggy we stole from the shed. We didn't get much sleep but we had a lot of fun on Grandma's feather bed."

Karen Junker
01-10-2012, 11:07 PM
The feather bed I slept in had a system of ropes strung across the bed frame for support, not a box spring. So two people in the bed would roll toward each other. Ditto on the sticky, pointy ends of feathers sticking out, even through the sheets. There would even be tiny bits of down fluff that got out somehow and would get into my nose or mouth occasionally. The mattress mats down fairly quickly.

I could add a possibility that happened to me more than once -- depending on when and where your story takes place, you could have a snake or scorpion or even crickets in the bed with you. So romantic...

waylander
01-10-2012, 11:15 PM
She would probably be very aware of his breathing, maybe too hot from his proximity. Depending on how they held each other she might get his hair tickling her nose.

Orianna2000
01-11-2012, 12:09 AM
Rolling toward each other, at this point, would be very awkward and would spook the poor husband. So I'd say that their bed doesn't have a rope frame.

But perhaps I'm mistaken--was a feather bed not considered something fancy for upper class folks? The husband is quite wealthy and only keeps the nicest furnishings. (It's 1881, though the furniture is somewhat older.)

Karen Junker
01-11-2012, 12:23 AM
I lived in the poorest part of the Ozarks in 1976 when I used a feather mattress -- it was homemade. You may be thinking of a *down* mattress, which is made from the finest, tiniest fluffy feathers (usually goose down) and would be a luxury item. The one I used was made from chicken feathers (we raised chickens). I've also slept on a goose down mattress and it's very different from a feather one -- it is fluffy and sort of fluffs up around you when you lay in it, like a cocoon.
ETA: Your frame could be made from boards lined up next to each other, like a table top.

GeorgeK
01-11-2012, 12:54 AM
I stayed in a Bed & Breakfast once that boasted feathered mattresses. I remember that my sleeping bag on the floor was more comfortable.

Orianna2000
01-11-2012, 03:21 AM
You may be thinking of a *down* mattress, which is made from the finest, tiniest fluffy feathers (usually goose down) and would be a luxury item.

ETA: Your frame could be made from boards lined up next to each other, like a table top.
Yes, I think you're right--I was imagining a down mattress. I knew the idea of feather stems poking her in the night wasn't very high-class, but the concept of a down mattress escaped me. Also, the bed frame you described is exactly what I was thinking. Thanks!

WriteKnight
01-11-2012, 03:40 AM
During the early 18th century, fillings inside the mattress started to include cotton and wool. In mid 18th century, fillings included coconut fibers and horsehair. It was also at this time that the mattresses were buttoned to put in-placed the stuffing, and its edges were stitched. The quality of its linen also improved. In 1850s, the first cast iron spring beds were invented. It was primarily used at first for chair seats. Eventually, it evolved to the construction of coil spring bed. The invention of spring beds was prompted by the need for hygienic and comfortable place to sleep. The first innerspring mattress was invested in 1871 by German Heinrich Westphal. In 1873, Sir James Paget presented a modern waterbed designed by Neil Arnott to the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital as a treatment and prevention of pressure ulcers.

In 19th century, the box spring iron cast beds were invented. The most expensive mattress emerged in 1929 which was made of latex rubber.

http://www.bedmattresses.info/history-of-mattresses.html

Orianna2000
01-12-2012, 03:09 AM
In 1850s, the first cast iron spring beds were invented. It was primarily used at first for chair seats. Eventually, it evolved to the construction of coil spring bed.
Thanks for the quote. I actually have an antique rocking chair with a spring seat cushion. It's nice to sit on, but I can't imagine sleeping on a bed like that, unless it had a lot of padding above the springs!

L M Ashton
01-12-2012, 07:25 PM
During the early 18th century, fillings inside the mattress started to include cotton and wool. In mid 18th century, fillings included coconut fibers and horsehair.
Coconut fiber - or coir as it's known here - is incredibly uncomfortable as mattress filling. I've slept on it. Well, no, I lay horizontally on it for a period of time while it was night. Sleep is taking it too far.

If the character is hypersensitive, the coir mattress would drive her nuts.

Orianna2000
01-12-2012, 08:06 PM
Coconut fiber - or coir as it's known here - is incredibly uncomfortable as mattress filling. I've slept on it. Well, no, I lay horizontally on it for a period of time while it was night. Sleep is taking it too far.

If the character is hypersensitive, the coir mattress would drive her nuts.
That's interesting. The husband is trying to see to the MC's every comfort, so I'll avoid the coconut fiber mattress in this novel. I'll keep it in mind for future stories. Thanks!

Alitriona
01-12-2012, 09:31 PM
As a child, my grandmother's house had all feather mattresses on spring bases. They were bouncy but I don't recall much roll together. The mattresses were thick so there was no issue with springs poking through. I loved nothing more than pulling out the feathers that poked out though. What I remember most is the noise of the creaking metal of the springs. It still reminds me of comfort, home and a feeling of safety. So now, I'm slightly obsessed with feathers. :) I have a latex mattress with two feather toppers, feather duvet and more feather pillows on my bed than a sane person needs. I love how a shake can fluff them right up again when they go flat and I can sink in to what I lovingly call my duvet cave. I don't find feather loss is as big a problem as I recall as a child.

We also have a feather filled custom made couch over a wood frame. It's 7 foot long about the depth of a single bed with tons of large throw cushions on the back, which can be removed to use as a guest bed when needed. We've never had anyone complain about sleeping on it and I find it very comfortable, although a good deal harder than foam filled couches we've had in the past. The seat cushion are heavy and do go flat, and need to be shuck out regularly. There is very slight disturbance when someone else sits down but no roll together. Occasionally, a few small feathers escape but the interior cover seems to be dense enough to keep them in.

Orianna2000
01-12-2012, 10:12 PM
I have a latex mattress with two feather toppers, feather duvet and more feather pillows on my bed than a sane person needs. I love how a shake can fluff them right up again when they go flat and I can sink in to what I lovingly call my duvet cave.
Most of the pillows I own are regular fiberfill, but the one I sleep on is a synthetic down pillow. I love it. It conforms exactly to the shape I need and, like you said, when it gets flat, I just punch it a few times and it's fluffy again. It was slightly more expensive than the average pillow, but worth every penny.


We also have a feather filled custom made couch over a wood frame. It's 7 foot long about the depth of a single bed with tons of large throw cushions on the back, which can be removed to use as a guest bed when needed. How interesting! I've never heard of anyone having a feather-filled couch. My hubby would hate all the throw pillows, but it sounds great to me! :)

pdr
01-13-2012, 11:39 AM
he's reasonably wealthy the bed would have a wooden frame and base and the mattress would be down filled.

Goose and eider duck down were the best back then. You would not be pricked by the coarse feathers and the mattress would be thick and soft. When you lie on one it moulds around your body.

The modern comparison I can think of is lying on millions of those polystyrene beads in a huge, top quality bean bag or those children's jumping castles which have slides and things where the kids drop into a thick layer of polystyrene beads. They sink but don't topple into each other.

Orianna2000
01-13-2012, 05:51 PM
he's reasonably wealthy the bed would have a wooden frame and base and the mattress would be down filled.

Goose and eider duck down were the best back then. You would not be pricked by the coarse feathers and the mattress would be thick and soft. When you lie on one it moulds around your body.

I've heard of eider down. That could work, thanks!


The modern comparison I can think of is lying on millions of those polystyrene beads in a huge, top quality bean bag or those children's jumping castles which have slides and things where the kids drop into a thick layer of polystyrene beads. They sink but don't topple into each other.I've never seen a children's castle or playground where they use beanbag beads. Only those small plastic balls. Sounds interesting, though. I have a beanbag, so I can imagine what that would be like.