Antique rocking chairs
The rocking chair is regarded as an American creation. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint who exactly invented it and where it was first introduced, historians believe that the rocking chair was first made by American colonies during the early part of the 18th century.
By the early 1800s, its popularity has become so widespread that many American homes had at least one.
The first rocking chairs were made by adding wooden rockers to regular chairs and were designed mostly for toddlers. Rocking chairs for adults, which came much later, were originally meant for nurses and mothers to help them lull children to sleep. Early versions had big rockers but as time progressed, slimmer and narrower rockers became the norm.History
During the 18th century, many manufacturers used Windsor chairs to make rocking chairs. These chairs had spindles to support a person’s back. In the early part of the 18th century, furniture makers started using more than one type of wood to make rocking chairs. Pine and tulip were used to make seats, hickory and maple which were more flexible were utilized for making spindles and back support, and hardwoods such as maple were the material of choice for legs. These chairs were often painted since using different types of wood made for an uneven color.
Designs started to improve during the start of the 19th century when chairs began to appear more ergonomic and graceful. One of the most popular chairs during this period was the Boston rocking chair, which has an S-shaped seat.
Around this time, the religious group Shakers were also actively making this type of furniture piece. Their rocking chairs are distinguished by their lack of ornamentation in keeping true with the traditions and beliefs of the group.
It was around the second quarter of the 19th century that rocking chairs started to exhibit more elaborate designs. Chairs from around this time were also comparatively far more comfortable than their predecessors. Popular design themes during this period include birds, flowers, and cornucopias.
The 1800s saw more and more manufacturers abandoning the original practice of bolting chairs into rockers to make rocking chairs. It was in the year 1860, when the bentwood rocker, a highly popular rocking chair, was introduced in the market. Such is the popularity of this chair that until today it is still being manufactured.
Many rocking chair innovations were also introduced around this time, such as platform rockers, office chair rockers, and folding rockers. At the start of the 20th century, mission rocking chairs became the trend. These chairs which were typically made of oak, were renowned for their durability, simplicity and comfort.
During the 1910s, chairs that featured colonial style designs became popular. Following the Second World War, companies began producing rocking chairs that appeared plain and simple.
Probably the most popular rocking chair from this period was the one made by Charles and Rae Eames, which was made using different materials such as wires, fibreglass and wood.
How to maintain antique rocking chairs
One of the best ways to maintain the look of an antique rocking chair is to rub it with lemon oil regularly. This will keep moisture out and help prolong the life of the chair. Collectors should also keep their vintage rocking chairs away from sources of humidity and heat.