rocking chairs history : windsor rocker, boston rocker, shaker rocker, wicker rocker, adirondack ..................................................................................

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rocking chairs history


.............................. origin ....................... precursors .................... modern (1) ..................... modern (2) .................. contemporary ............. newcomers



precursors
( history of rocking chairs, 2 of 6 )
.........................................................

gungstol with 6 legs
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GUNGSTOL
ca. 1740, sweden

6- legged gungstols ( the swedish gungstol means rocking chair)
were made between the early 1800's until the mid 1870's,
while the 4- legged ones were made until the early 1900's.
gungstols were traditionally painted black with gold outlining


bow-spindle windsor rocking chair
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WINDSOR ROCKER
ca. 1740, england

the bow-spindle-backed chair seems to have originated
near windsor castle in england in the early to mid 1700's.
by the 1740s windsor rocking chairs were used
in england's southern counties, intended as garden (lawn)
chairs. these chairs are characterized by a back frame bent into
a hoop, and splayed legs pegged directly into the seat.
usually painted dark green or black, or sometimes left
unfinished, the chairs appeared in many combinations of
woods.

but it was the american windsor chair, built principally in
philadelphia, that became known worldwide.
windsor rockers were introduced to the american colonies
around 1750 and evolved into many different variations
(characteristics which are often combined):
rounded hoop back,
the birdcage (in which the spindles are broken by horizontal
wood pieces),
the comb-back (which added a comb-shaped headrest),
and the arrow back (which had flattened spindles).


comb windsor rocking chair
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COMB - WINDSOR ROCKER
ca. 1770, usa

yellow painted windsor style rocking chair with a
secondary head rest, resembling an old-fashioned high comb.


birdcage windsor rocker,
low backrest with bamboo imitation.
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BIRDCAGE - WINDSOR ROCKER
ca. 1800, usa

windsor style rocking chair without armrests,
the curved spindles are broken by horizontal wood pieces


boston rocking chair
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BOSTON ROCKER
ca. 1840, usa

the boston rocker is a variation of the windsor rocker,
developed around 1840 in new england.
the boston rocker has a high back (several spindles extend
above the main back, or six to nine curved, long spindles)
topped by a larger crest rail and a wood seat that curved
down in front and up in the rear.
its arms followed the curve of the seat.
often painted black or white or stenciled.
this was the first mass-produced rocking chair
- after 1840, the boston rocker was mostly made by machine.


salem rocking chair
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SALEM ROCKER
ca. 1840, usa

this variation has a lower back than the boston rocker,
light straight spindles and a heavier top rail scroll.
it originated in new england.


shaker rocking chair,
cherry construction with woven tape seat.
---
SHAKER ROCKER
ca. 1820, usa

the shakers, or united society of believers, a religious sect,
was founded in britain and came to north america during the
revolutionary war.
first independent communities were found in america in 1774.
chiefly rural and self-sustaining, they produced furniture which
was simple and functional in design, well-proportioned,
with no carving or decorative painting, noted for its austere
beauty.
shaker rocking chairs have a ladder-back with a simple finial
(the shape at the top of the rocker frame) and woven seats
usually made from leather, wool or cane.
shaker furniture makers frequently made things in multiples,
such production methods were not only efficient, but they
helped to ensure uniformity.
at the same time, however they designed individual pieces to
suit a certain believer's size. a rocking chair - as a suit of cloth -
might well be extra large or small for a particular individual.
earlier chairs were heavier, in the 1860s brother
robert wagan, designed the ultimate shaker rocking chair.


rustic rocking chair
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RUSTIC ROCKER
1825, canada

a rocking chair built in a very rudimentary fashion.
the back is straight and has three slats.


wicker rocking chair made by the
heywood brothers and company
WICKER ROCKERS
ca. 1850, usa

since roman times, flexible willow was a material used in
europe for the construction of baskets and wicker furnishings.
the wicker chair was introduced in britain in the first
century a.d.
the first wicker rocking chair was surely made in england, but
the development of the use of this material in fabricating rocking
chairs took place in america.

in the mid-eighteenth century, the use of wicker-work
rocking chairs in the american colonies was booming.
a fruitful meeting between old world craftsmanship
american industrialism and commercial competition stimulated
new developments in design, production methods and materials.

rocking chair with american flag motif
made by the wakefield rattan company
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adirondack rocking chair
ADIRONDACK
ca. 1830, usa

tree art came to the united states by the way of england,
and became very popular in 1840s.

life in the city was no easier or more tolerable in 1830 or
1900 than it is today. 'getting away' to places like the adirondacks..

appalachian craftsmen used some recognizeable part of the
tree and gathered, tied or nailed them together.
the rough-hewn wood or twig construction was commonly
constructed of birch, hickory, cedar, ash or pine...


these craftsmen used a variety of forms and techniques,...
paying attention to detail and refinement of expression.



adirondack rocking chair

adirondack child's rocking chair,
hickory with splint seat and leather
wrapping around the back and arms

adirondack rocking chair
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---
IRON ROCKING CHAIR
1850, england

this chair was shown in london at the great exhibition of the
industries of all nations in 1851and again at the world expo in 1862.
it's plain form countered the popular taste for 'heavy' decoration.
a wrought iron frame with wooden slats and buttoned upholstery.
designed probably by peter cooper, produced by r.w. winfield & co.,
birmingham.

(it is said that the inventor was peter cooper, new york 1791- 1883.
cooper, with two partners, founded canton iron works in 1829
in baltimore. there he constructed the tom thumb, one of the
earliest locomotives built in the united states, and became a leader
in the american iron industry).



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.............................. origin ....................... precursors .................... modern (1) ..................... modern (2) .................. contemporary ............. newcomers




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this major study, curated by designboom in 2001
will provide all those interested in 'furniture' with information on the chronological evolution of rocking chairs.