Hunzinger 1869 Patent Chair

by John Werry on January 30, 2009

hunz2 682x1024 Hunzinger 1869 Patent Chair

Whoa.  It has taken me 5 days to isolate an issue on this blog that prevented me from creating new posts.  It is easier to troubleshoot problems where nothing works at all then to troubleshoot the case where everything works on the site except adding new posts.  It has not been fun and has broken my rhythm.   While I get my mojo back, here’s a post I had waiting in the wings …

I personally own the chair that is represented by the design in the 1869 Hunzinger patent application. He made seemingly countless, sometimes crazy-looking variations of this chair but it feels kinda fun to have a chair that is 95% the same as the patent drawing from 1869.

I say 95% the same because it seems that Hunzinger was always tinkering and you can see something in my chair that is not in the design.  My chair must be a later derivation or evolution of the chair.  Hunzinger added additional bracing connecting the back legs to the front cross-brace down near the floor.  You can compare my chair, above, with the patent side image and see that the extra bracing is absent.

He certainly was concerned with rigidity and durability, which was the original purpose of his patent.

hunzinger chair patent2 Hunzinger 1869 Patent Chair

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane January 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

Lovely. John, who did that upholstery? Have you seen a pic of original upholstery for this chair design?

I’m curious because I’ve been gearing up to do upholstery for myself. Not on a Hunzinger because I don’t have one, but I’ve been collecting examples of original upholstery where possible.

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RareVictorian January 30, 2009 at 10:16 am

Diane, previous owner might have, but not sure as I did not. There’s a lot of images of original upholstery in the Harwood Hunzinger book. They tended to be tufted with buttons with fringe in some cases.

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PaulT January 30, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Thanks; interesting chair with the extra braces. Regarding original upholstery, my historic photo of this chair style (sans extra braces) shows simple upholstery similar to yours, but with fringe.

How do I send you a photo?

Paul

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RareVictorian January 31, 2009 at 8:35 am

You can sent photos to info @ rarevictorian.com

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Phil February 6, 2009 at 12:01 am

Hey, John. My wife and I picked up the same chair while wandering through a little berg with lots of antique stores. The very last one was shabby-chic. We shook our heads in disgust, grabbed each other’s hands for strength, braced for the worst, and went in. Everything was painted white, of course, with one exception. Embarassingly hidden in the corner was the only natural wood piece in the store, at a nice cheap price, too. We snatched up the little misfit and high-tailed it. Ours comports with the patent drawing, lacking the cross-braces. On our way home, we stopped at some friends’ house to compare ours with theirs. At first we thought they were identical. At closer inspection, there were numerous variations. We enjoyed the 20 mintues or so picking out the differences. One of the many little differences was on the four horizontal supports that anchor the oval back. One had small turnings that form a sphere, like yours. The other’s spheres were much larger and flattened to an oval shape. It is interesting that Hunzinger would bother to refine and re-refine a design. We have you beat on the upholstery, though. Ours has a lovely bright red 1970s poly-cotton velour!

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RareVictorian February 6, 2009 at 8:41 am

Phil, great story. It is strange that he would bother tinkering with such small details. He must have made the chair for many years.

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Phil February 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Hey, John. Another thought on this Hunzinger chair. I am wondering if your cross-bracing significantly added to the overall stability. We had some collateral damage to some more lightly-constructed chairs when our kids were teenagers, especially by our son and his buddies. Though we only have one kid living at home while finishing college (alas, all those potential antiquing funds currently otherwise diverted — for excellent cause, of course), we still have placed Mr. H’s chair up in one of the third-floor servant bedrooms for safekeeping. There is a fragility, not to mention the current upholstery, that has prevented us from being comfortable using it in any of our “public” rooms or even bedrooms. I can’t help thinking that the delicate-type Hunzinger pieces were almost strictly for show. Of course, they can be sat in, but gingerly is my advice.

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RareVictorian February 8, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Phil,
Not sure about the braces and stability. Depends on from which angle the chair receives abuse. My chair was fractured at both “shoulders” where the curve is during shipment and I had to get Rose Valley Restorations to fix it. I rarely sit in it, but if I do it is briefly and gingerly.

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Rachel February 12, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I’m interested to know the dimension of this chair. I’m using it as inspiration for a chair in a set design in the victorian era. The H, W,and D would be very helpful. Also, it looks like it could fold up, but I don’t see any mechanics that would allow it to act as a folding chair. Let me know if it does. Thank you so much! I have enjoyed this website.

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RareVictorian February 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Rachel, Measurements of 34″ height x 19″ width x 22″ depth. 10 lbs weight. Does not fold up.

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monkecmonkedo June 11, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Just purchased a nearly identical chair off eBay as my birthday present to myself. As Phil said, there must be 20 subtle differences between yours and ours. Trying to find them is like the “What is different” game in the Sunday paper. George’s lathe operators must have been encouraged to “express themselves”. We plan to have ours reupholstered along with a very similar rocker we picked up on eBay a year or so ago. We’re friends with one of the Decorative Arts Curators at the NY State Museum in Albany. The museum had some pieces done for the their collection and our friend suggested we use the same person. Should be fun to see their thoughts on proper Hunzinger upholstery. When I find out, I’ll follow up.

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PaulT June 12, 2009 at 1:51 am

John:

A while back (just after you put out your original post on this chair) I sent you an historic photo of this chair style to show you and your readers a typical original uphostery job; can’t you put it on the web for others to see?

PaulT

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James Futral December 5, 2010 at 11:42 am

I have a George Hunzinger piece with his name on the bottom. No one has been able to tell me what kind of chair it is, but one person recognized it as a Hunzinger piece and showed us the name. Some have sait it’s a gamblers chair.
I have taken it to several antique shows and still no one knows what it is. Can you help.
It was nineteeth centry American

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John Werry December 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm

James, post a picture in Victorianforum.com and we’ll take a look.

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James Futral December 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm

John, wish I knew how to get a picture on the web-site. I’m a novice. Jim

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