Patents Pertaining to antique morris chairs
There are many United States patents pertaining to Morris chairs. I have a collection of over 200 patents featuring all sorts of parts of Morris chairs and they fall into three categories:
1. Patents I have actually seen on real chairs
2. Patents that seem quite workable and reasonable but which I have never seen manufactured
3. Patents that are so complex or simply crazy that I doubt that they were ever actually made or put on chairs.
For the time being, I am only going to list patents of chair parts that I have actually seen on chairs, with the exception of the first one below which I believe falls into category 3. If you happen to own a chair with some patented hardware and want to consult the complete patent, usually entering the patent number into Google Patents will produce the entire thing, drawings and text. Once you have the patent on the screen if you want to download a PDF of it there is a bar you can click in the upper right corner of the page, just under the red bar that says "sign in." Oddly, the "advanced search" function of Google Patents usually cannot find patents using only the patent number. Stick with the basic Google Patents if you are searching using the patent number.
Most typically, the patents are in the name of the inventor, even when the inventor worked for a company that made chairs or chair parts. Where I know the company name or anything about it, I have provided that information below. Sometimes the patented hardware can be used to identify the chair maker but sometimes it was made by a hardware company that sold parts to various chair makers. The dates of the patents may be interesting to chair owners because they will set about the earliest date that a particular piece of hardware was used. Sometimes the actual hardware on the chairs was not exactly like the patent drawing but I suppose it was similar enough to be covered by the patent.
|First, only one example of the kind of rather odd patent that is surprisingly common. This one is the Morris chair home gym. Someone, in this case S.G. Wilson, went to a great deal of trouble in thinking this up, drawing it and writing a description of it. I am willing to bet that it was never manufactured, at least, I have never seen one. If you own one, let me know and I will cease to use it as an example of fanciful chairs and put it below with the real ones.|
|This is a very early patent that was reissued in 1901. I have searched extensively but found few patents for real Morris chairs earlier than about 1900. There are lots of patents before 1900 for "reclining chairs" but they are not real Morris chairs with wooden arms and, usually, loose cushions and spindles under the arms.|
|Chairs with this patent were produced by Allen Brothers of Philadelphia. They are beautiful high-end chairs. Sometimes they were made of solid mahogany. The notched plate holding the back bar was mortised into the chair arm. Both the plate and the bar were made of brass The plate carried the company name embossed into it.|
|Chairs with this patent were among those produced by the C. F. Streit Mfg. Co. that was located at 1050 Kenner Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. Streit mad a wide range of furniture including several models of Morris chair and a Davenport that converted into a bed. As you can see, this Morris chair was able to recline to a nearly flat postion so that it, too,could be used as a bed. Around the turn of the century, there were many patents for chairs and that folded out flat. A few of these would qualify to be considered Morris chairs.|
This patent was found on the very popular Larkin 1898 Chatauqua Morris chair. The inventor, Frank O'Keefe worked for the Indian River Chair Company in the small town of Philadelphia in western upstate New York. The company was organized in 1890 and was destroyed by a fire in 1897. It was rebuilt about the time that this patent was issued so the chairs may bhe been one of the first products to come from the new factory. Thousands of these were given away as premiums by the Larkin Soap Company, so it must have kept the Indian River Chair Company quite busy with production. It is an excellent design, making the chair easy to knock down for shipping.
The notched back rack that was underslung on the rear of the chair arms (not shown here) was also included in this patent and can be seen in another patent drawing included in US Pat. No. 616346
|Jerrold F. Walton organized the Royal Chair Company of Sturgis Michigan. He also produced many patents that were adopted by the company. The feature of having a plunger in the side board or, later, a button up on the top of the arm was patented and as far as I know, chairs with this feature were always made by Royal. This is the earliest patent I have found of this mechanism. The actual reclining hardware changed quite a bit over the years. By comparing actual chairs to the Royal patent drawings here one can often date a chair to within a few years.|
The Seng Company operated a large factory at 1450-1468 Dayton Street in Chicago according to The Poole and Co. 1918 Directory of Wholesale Industries of Chicago. The Seng Company was "devoted exclusively to the invention, development and wholesale manufacture of metallic parts used in the construction and operation of furniture" and was the largest company of its kind in the world. Steel stamping was the primary method used by Seng.
The company was founded by Wendelin Seng and started making furniture parts in 1874. In the 1890s Seng was joined by his four sons in operating the rapidly expanding business. Chair parts were made in such quantity that they were shipped out of the factory in fully packed railraod boxcars.
While the reclining mechanism in this patent was used by at least one chair maker, it was never very common.
|This is another refinement of the Royal Chair Company invented by Jerrold Walton. This patent introduced the plunger through the side board as a means of operating the reclining mechanism. The top of this plunger looked like an oversize golf tee and, for a while, it was part of the company logo.|
|This patent by G. A. Bowen was for the chairs made by S. A. Cook and Company of Medina New York. It is the first appearance of what is called the "peapod" reclining mechanism. A pawl on a small swinging arm catches in the ratchet teeth of the peapod back rack. Pulling the back slightly forward from the most upright position allows the pawl on this device to fall down in back of the ratchet teeth, thence permitting the user to raise the back from the most reclined to the most upright positions by simply pulling on the chair back. As far as I know chairs with this device were always made by S. A. Cook|
|I am not typically going to show more than one patent drawing for each patent. Many chair patents have two or three drawings and I will choose the one which best shows the features. However, here I am showing a second drawing of the S. A. Cook& Co peapod back rack because it makes the design of the peapod so easy to see. It is worth noting that this chair is shown with ordinary back flap hinges. These were subsequently replaced by a peculiar cast iron hinge that was patented and only used by Cook.|
|Like the first serious patent on the page, this one was invented by Joseph Luppino of New Haven CT. While I have seen chairs with each of these Luppino patents, I do not know if these were assigned to a particular furniture company or if Luppino was associated with a manufacturer of chair parts that sold to companies that actually made the chairs. There is an ad for a Joseph Luppino in the Yale Literary Magazine for 1893. Luppino is described there as an upholsterer. It is a quite common name so the upholsterer may be someone else. However, it might make sense that while doing upholstery one might get ideas about reclining mechanisms for Morris chairs.|
|This is the patent for the odd little cast iron hinge made by S. A. Cook and Company of Medina New York as well as for improvements in the "peapod" style back rack. Odd though it was, the hinge was a clever device in that it permitted the back of the chair to be removed. This removal could only occur when the chair back was swung to the rear, parallel to the floor. A small pin with flat sides on the right-hand side male hinge would be able to be pulled through a notch in the female hinge when the back was laid out flat. With that hinge disconnected the back was easy to take off. These hinges were and are easily broken by lifting the back before the male hinge pin is completely seated. The enormous leverage supplied by the chair back easily snaps pieces off the female as well as a small turning insert within the female. This break is very difficult to repair so if you have one of these be careful if you take the back off the chair for some reason.|
|I have seen this footrest on a chair but, as so often, I do not know who made the chair. There were many attempts to design footrests for Morris chairs and a few were manufactured. I freely admit that the chair is more comfortable with the feet up, which is why an ottoman or nearby coffee table is sometimes used as a footrest. The problem that has never been adequately solved is how to get out of the chair and stand up if there is something in the way. At least this footrest has a place each side of the center rod to put one's feet while fiddling around retracting the footrest. Walton A.Eddy was a carriage maker and inventor in Randolph, NY. Along with patents for a carriage seat, he designed and built several steamboats.|
I have seen pictures of these chairs and I read the complex and tedious patent description, but I still am not completely sure how this thing works. As near as I can tell and as you can see, as the back reclines, the seat slides forward. There is a pretty serious spring underneath that returns the seat to the upright position when the person is no longer leaning back. The chair back seems to be held in position (so that it is not a continual pushing war between the sitter and the chair) by a pneumatic cylinder sort of "like a common bicycle pump" that damps the movement of the chair so that the back does not fly forward as the sitter gets up. I think this damping action is also supposed to help steady the back in any position.
This was made and marketed by J. A. Kelly & Bros. in Clinton Iowa according to a paper tag on one of the chairs I have seen.
|This thing is a variation on the S.A. Cook peapod. the inventor, Frank Mace (1878-1953) worked for Cook. This peapod was a bit more complicated than the earlier ones. It was produced and fitted to at least one chair because I have seen a picture of a chair with this device. It was much less common than the earlier version of the peapod.|
|This Jerrold Walton patent surprised me when I found it. He was an officer of The Royal Chair Company and I had always believed that all Royal products featured the push button in the side stretcher or the arm as part of the reclining mechanism. I presumed that this patent was never produced by the company. Then a chair owner sent me a picture of a chair fitted with this toothed back rack, so we now know that they produced at least one of them. They almost certianly produced more, but I believe that it remains a rare Royal chair because the one that was called to my attention is the only one I have ever seen. The operation of the chair back is similar to that of the S. A. Cook "peapod" mechanism in that a swinging pawl on the chair back engages the rack on the back legs of the chair..|
|As afar as I know, the back rack consisting of pieces of wood of this shape were on all the chairs produced by George Hunzinger. The piece of wood containing the back rack was added onto the back leg of the chair. It does not seem to me to be a particularly robust design, but I have seen quite a few of these and I have never seen a broken one. Hunzinger also made this chair with quite large tables hinged to each arm that could be raised to arm height or folded down beside the chair.|
|A top view of the Hunzinger chair showing the area taken up by the footrest, which was also included in this patent.|
|The patents of Clarence Greilick were assigned to the Traverse City Chair Company. According to a business directory of the time, the factory was runnning at full capacity from January 1909 and business had increased rapidly in that time. A three story addition was added to the factory in 1909 in order to handle the increased business.|
|This pull-out footrest was patented by Jerrold Walton and can be found on many Royal Chair Company chairs. It is uncomplicated, sliding in and out like a drawer on runners. There was a wire basket in it into which the sitter could toss things such as books or magazines in order to have them at hand at the next sitting.|
|This is another patent for a hinge and reclining mechansim. I have seen the hinge on a real chair but not the reclining mechansim. The overall style of the chair was sometimes called a "smoker's chair" because of the boxy arms that had hinged tops. The intent was that these boxes be used for storing items such as tobacco, pipes and ashtrays. George Hunzinger and several other companies made smoker's chairs.|
|This notched reclining device, like the Greilick patent a few rows above, was owned by the traverse City Chair Company. I have seen two chairs with these devices among the hundreds of chairs I have seen, suggesting that there might not have been too many of them made.|
|Here is a Walton patent for the Royal Chair Company. In this one, the push button pulls a little saw-toothed plunger away from another saw-toothed edge as the sitter leans slight back or forward to establish the desired back angle. Releasing the saw-toothed plunger latched the chair back in whatever position was chosen.|
|This is another view of the patent above. It is clear in Fig. 1 that the button has migrated up to the chair arm. I never saw a Royal chair produced like the drawing. It was much more common that the shaft of the pushbutton went up inside one of a number of side spindles. This not only hid it but protected it from being bent.|
|This was also a Royal Chair Company patent but I think that relatively few of them were produced. The push button in this design effected a clamping action at point 19a in the drawing. When unclamped, the large disk could turn, permitting the rack and pinion feature to allow the back to recline. The reclining back sould be stopped at any position. The only one of these that I have ever seen was missing a few of the parts and it was not clear to me how it operated until I found the patent.|
|This Walton/Royal Chair Company patent centers around the hinge and the nature of the steel bar that went up the back of the chair. I have known several of these chairs that have somehow lost that bar. I include two sets of drawings from this patent (another one below) because this a bar is not very special and is easy to replicate|
|The hinge that was part of this patent worked in such a way that the chair back could be removed when it was parallel to the ground. Quite a few of these hinges were used on Royal chairs because I have seen many of them and repaired several.|
|This is another patent covering the hinge that is shown in the row above|
|This Royal Chair patent shows a different arrangement for the bar that goes up the backs of Royal Chair Company chairs. This one is longer and is applied to the outside of the backs, whereas the earlier one went through drill holes in the back boards. The earlier design probably compromised the strength of the back boards.|
|To be continued as time permits. Thanks for looking.|