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Learning About Antique Barber Chairs

Whether you’re a serious antique collector or a homeowner looking for a great conversation piece, purchasing an antique barber chair can be an attractive proposition. When you look on eBay, you’ll find a number of reasonably priced vintage barber chairs for sale.

Manufacturers of vintage and antique barber chairs

In order for a barber chair to be vintage, it must be at least 20 years old and at least 100 years old to be considered antique. A number of manufacturers made barber chairs in past decades and centuries:

  • Archer Company: In 1878, the Archer Company manufactured the first one-piece recliner with an attached footrest. The company quickly followed up with a barber chair model that raised and lowered mechanically.
  • Eugene Berninghaus Company: Eugene Berninghaus’s Paragon was the first chair to recline and revolve. Berninghaus used a variety of woods in his chairs, including maple, oak, cherry, mahogany, and walnut.
  • Theodore A. Koch Company: The Chicago-based Theodore A. Koch Company incorporated Archer and Berninghaus innovations into its own line of barber chairs. By 1885, the company had sold more than 35,000 chairs.
  • Koken’s Barber Supply Company: The first hydraulic barber chair was engineered by Ernest Koken in 1900. Koken also invented and patented the side lever that allowed the barber to control the chair’s functions.
Parts of vintage and antique barber chairs

Old barber chairs are made up of many different parts, some of which include the following:

  • Headrest: Most old barber chairs have removable headrests to facilitate massage. Headrests are typically made of cast iron with leather upholstery.
  • Backrest: On antique barber chairs, the frame of the backrest is generally made of cast iron and upholstered in leather.
  • Arm rest: Arm rests were generally made of cast iron covered with chrome. Sometimes, ashtrays were incorporated into arm rests.
  • Seat: Seats were made of leather or mohair.
  • Hydraulic lift mechanism: Vintage barber chairs’ hydraulic lift mechanisms contained a piston pump assembly, relief valve, filter, plunger, and cylinder beneath a wooden cover.
  • Calf rest: The calf rest was made from cast iron.
  • Footrest: On most antique barber chairs, the cast iron footrest is where the manufacturer’s name was displayed.
  • Base: The base was made of porcelain. Frequently, the base was in two pieces to facilitate portability. The pieces were connected with a metal ring.
How is a vintage barber chair valued?

Vintage barber chairs are primarily valued according to their uniqueness. Many expensive antique barber chairs for sale feature handcrafted woods or footrests and hand rests with etched designs.

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