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Rock On, Rocking Chairs

Updated on September 25, 2013

Everybody loves to sit in a rocking chair. No matter if you are three years old or ninety, sitting in a rocking chair is fun and relaxing. The gentle sway back and forth that a rocking chair provides is a natural way to soothe the nerves and bring about a state of deep calm and serenity. Undoubtedly this love of rocking goes back to the time when we were babies and our parents rocked us to sleep, or even earlier, before we were born, and the way we were rocked while our mothers walked and moved about. In fact, rocking chairs are very popular items in the nursery, going hand in hand with the baby nursery wall appliques, cribs and changing tables, and pastel colored walls. Given how comfortable rocking chairs are, this versatile type of furniture has been made in more styles than you could even imagine. Since the beginning of their design and manufacture, rocking chairs have been made of every type of material and in every color and look, from the very most basic of styles to the most ornate. Here we present just a bit of information on what might rightly be called every person’s favorite kind of chair.

Rocking Chairs are a classic piece of furniture.
Rocking Chairs are a classic piece of furniture.

Rocking Chair History

There seems to be a bit of dispute on where and when the rocking chair was first made and used. It appears that rocking chairs were being made as early as the beginning of the 1700s in England. These chairs were made for outdoor use for sitting in the garden. For this reason, these chairs were sometimes called garden chairs. The Windsor rocking chair made at this time was so named because of its appearance in the gardens of Windsor Castle in England.

Despite this historical evidence for the origins of the rocking chair, some stories say that these chairs were invented by the American patriot Benjamin Franklin at about the year of 1750. According to this story, Benjamin Franklin took the rockers off of a rocking baby cradle and fixed them to the bottom of a regular wooden sitting chair. While we can’t be sure this is the first time a rocking chair was ever made, rocking baby cradles and rocking horses did predate rocking chairs, so Franklin certainly could have used these items for inspiration when he made his famous rocking chair.

What is certain is that rocking chairs quickly became one of the most popular chairs in the United States, Europe, and the world. Rocking chairs became a symbol of prestige and authority in the home, and the important adults in the house were given the honor of sitting in rocking chairs. Soon, rocking chairs were being made in styles ranging from simple all wood chairs for one person to upholstery covered chairs with headrests and padded arms to rocking chair loveseats for two or more people. An important point in the history of rocking chairs came in the late 1800s when a German furniture maker named Thonet fashioned the first bentwood rocking chair. The rockers on this type of chair are made from wood that is steamed and then bent into graceful arcs.

Styles of Rocking Chairs

When Thonet designed the first bentwood rocking chair in the 1800s, this type of furniture took off as an important addition to people’s homes. Soon after, furniture makers all over the world began making bentwood rockers in types from the most basic to the most luxuriant. The Chippendale rocker, for instance, incorporates clean and elegant design elements from Greek and Roman architecture. On the other hand, a designer in Italy by the name of Volpe in the early 1900s made rocking chairs that used bold new concepts in design that ushered in a modern era of rocker history. These were followed by the even more avant garde designs of le Corbusier.

Although most rocking chairs are made from bare wood, they are also designed at times to incorporate upholstered seats, backs, and headrests. A Queen Anne rocker, for instance, uses an upholstered seat cushion with classically graceful curving wooden back rungs. The mission style rocking chairs, on the other hand, are often made with leather upholstery of the seat and back cushions, and these rockers are set wide on their gliders using simple but elegant pieces of stained wood.

Of course, today’s rocking chairs come in any style you can think of and for any purpose or location that you will imagine. Rockers are made from high impact plastic for everyday use outside in the backyard or garden. Gliders are also popular, especially for front porches, but also indoors. The great thing about gliders is that these chairs move forward and back on their own frames and thus will not damage wooden or other floors with their movements.

All in all then, there is no home that should be without at least one rocking chair. They are comfortable, soothing, and the utmost in stylish, no matter what your taste. Get rocking!

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