Rare Victorian - Victorian Folding Chair Identification

Victorian Folding Chair Identification

Eastlake Victorian Folding Chair Victorian Folding Chair Identification

Eastlake Victorian Folding Chair Victorian Folding Chair Identification

Photo courtesy of Liveauctioneers

Victorian-era Folding chairs did have a higher-end and occasionally you will see that reflected in the auction prices for them today. The chair above was (I believe incorrectly) attributed to Herter Brothers and garnered $3,500 at the sale.  This Holmes folding chair with lion head arms sold for $1,650, while Al Capone’s personal chair (and what appears to be original upholstery) went for $6,600.

Al Capones Chair Victorian Folding Chair Identification

Photo courtesy of Liveauctioneers

Paul Tucker shared with me the Victorian folding chair below and was wondering if anyone knew anything about it.  It appears to me to be late 1860s to 1870s Renaissance Revival but I was unable to find the manufacturer in my reference books.

I would suggest he flip it over and search every surface for a stamp as they are sometimes present on these chairs.   Between 1855 (when the first folding chair patent was granted) and the turn of the century, 355 patents were granted for folding chairs.  Most of those were for the folding mechanism.  I would bet a lot of these chairs have the patent marks on them.

There are three types of folding chairs: sling, side, and X.

Sling chair: Constructed like a hammock with a single piece of fabric slung on the frame

Side chair: When folded, the back and seat come together

X chair: When folded, the sides come together.

Good resources for folding chair identification and history are the Dubrow book “Furniture Made In America: 1875-1905” and the Victorian Society essay book edited by Kenneth Ames, Vol. 8 nos. 3-4.  The latter has bonus material on Hunzinger, Boston furniture, Philadelphia furniture makers and more.

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  • Paul Tucker - August 5, 2009

    I’m fairly certain that the folding chair was made by the Boston Furniture company as it has a patent from April 19, 1870 which was issued to Alexander W. Stewart. Stewart was associated with the Boston Furniture Company. He had several patents on folding chairs. I couldn’t find any Boston Furniture Co. chairs as fancy as this one.

  • Tom - September 27, 2010


    I have a pair of very interesting hand carved folding chairs with a removable back. Can I possibly send a photo to you and if you can identify them for me.
    If you cannot, do you know of someone I can send the pictur to?


    • John Werry - September 28, 2010

      Sure, see the contact page to reach me.

  • V. Owens - February 12, 2011

    I inherited a victorian folding chair that my mom had in her attic. She had it refinished and re-canned and it is in perfect condition. What I need to know is how to price it. She said it was from a sailing ship and dates around 1880. It is solid walnut. I wil send you a photo if you could tell me how to email it to you.
    Thank you for your time,
    V. Owens

  • Richard Freeman - October 4, 2011

    I owned a victorian or edwardian folding rocking chair which looked just like a beach chair, and had a hanging carpet seat instead of deck chair canvas. Unfortunately it went missing some 23 years ago in a move.
    I have tried and tried to recreate the geometry, and though it was simple, cannot recall exactly how it folded. Has anyone else an idea?

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