History of the origin and development of mattresses.
Looking at a modern mattress, it is hard to believe that it is a very ancient invention of mankind. The word “mattress” itself has Arabic roots and translates as “to lie down.” It can also refer to the place where something is thrown. Historians claim that the idea of sleeping on a soft bed also came from the ancient Arabs. They placed soft pillows under their bodies to sleep comfortably. Europeans adopted this idea from the Arabs during the Crusades.
The first mattress.
Archaeological excavations confirm that the first mattresses date back to the Neolithic period (5th to 4th millennium BC). At that time, the bed was a small elevation above the ground that protected the sleeper from dirt and vermin. The ancient mattresses were covered with animal skins. These skins were filled with soft fillers (grass or leaves were collected and dried).
The ancient Persians used goat skins for mattresses and filled them with water. The idea of the water mattress is still relevant today, although it looks much nicer. The ancient Egyptians stacked palm fronds in a corner of their houses to give them a touch of comfort. The ancient Romans were revolutionaries in the mattress industry. In the 2nd century BC, they began making mattress covers out of durable fabric and filling them with hay or reeds. Around 200 BC, the first mattresses were made with animal hair and bird feathers for wealthy Romans. Such products were considered a sign of high status.
Mattresses from the 15th century.
From the 15th century AD in Europe, mattresses were made of coarse, strong fabric and filled with pea hulls, straw, and sometimes bird feathers. The cover was often made of teak, dense linen, or twill fabric. To make sleeping on such mattresses more comfortable, they were covered with soft fabrics (silk, brocade, or velvet) during the Renaissance. In the 16th and 17th centuries, such mattresses made of teak with straw inside began to be placed on a wooden platform. The mattress itself was supported by ropes or leather strips stretched over a wooden frame – a prototype of the modern orthopaedic bed. In the 18th century, cotton and wool became popular as mattress fillings.
In the 1850s, linen and cotton were almost exclusively used for covers filled with horsehair and coconut fibre. In the 19th century, the mattress became more attractive thanks to the use of high-quality fabrics for the cover. This refinement of the mattress contributed to the appearance of the first bedding.
The invention of the first spring
A milestone in the history of mattresses was 1857 when the first steel coil spring was patented. In a modified form, it is still used today by most modern furniture manufacturers. Almost 15 years later (1871), Heinrich Westphal developed the first spring mattress in Germany. And in 1873 the Englishman James Page produced a medical water mattress to prevent bedsores in bedridden patients. From 1876, thanks to Zalman Simmons, mass production of innerspring mattresses began.
Further development of mattresses was connected with the modernization of spring constructions. In 1885, J.P. Leggett’s idea of attaching springs to slatted frames by connecting them together was implemented. In 1889, a mattress with a comfortable wire block was introduced. The most important event of the 19th century for the history of mattresses was, of course, the invention of the universal spring core. It enabled the production of uniform, comfortable mattresses. All these achievements formed a good basis for the development of mattresses in the 20th century.
The birth of Latex.
Century. In 1926, Dunlop experts developed an excellent technology for vulcanizing rubber from the natural sap of the Hevea rubber tree. As a result, latex mattresses without springs were launched in 1929. This technology is still widely used in the 21st century.
In 1930, the use of artificial mattress fillers (latex foam, polyurethane foam (foam rubber), etc.) began to develop actively. In the 1930s, the first mattress with springs placed in separate fabric bags appeared. This was the prototype of modern mattresses with independent spring blocks. In the 1940s, the first air mattresses were invented. They were made of fabric impregnated with vulcanized rubber. This idea gradually became very popular, and in the 1960s the first convertible water mattresses became popular.
And then the memory foam came.
In the 1970s, the development of shape memory foam shaped the history of mattresses. NASA developed it in preparation for the space program. This foam is capable of assuming the shape of the human body when lying down. Since it does not exert any counterpressure, it creates a special effect of “weightlessness” and an excellent orthopaedic effect. However, the first mattress made of this foam (Memory Foam) appeared only in 1992, manufactured by Tempur-Pedic.
Also in the 1970s, a technology was developed for the production of synthetic latex, the properties of which practically did not differ from those of natural latex, but it was much cheaper. Latex foam mattresses became affordable even for people with average income.
In the middle of the century, the first mattresses made of foam rubber appeared. Leading orthopaedic surgeons were involved in the development of orthopaedic mattresses that provided excellent postural support. In 1990, James Marshall developed the pocket system, a system of individual, independent springs.
The mattress of the present.
Today, the story of mattresses continues. Today, new materials are increasingly used, while the construction of the mattress base remains essentially unchanged. The variety of mattresses available today makes it possible to satisfy even the most demanding and sophisticated consumer.