Historical evidence suggests the production of the first barber chair dates as far back as the 1800’s. However, discovery of some rare hand crafted versions may date back even farther. The vintage barber chair genre is fast becoming a major antique dealer item and the collecting popularity of the chair continues to reflect a steady and rapid increase.
Considered a collector’s hidden gem some antique barber chairs bring exorbitant sums of money at many prestigious auction houses. There are several factors for determining the value of an antique barber chair. A chair in well-preserved condition generates higher values. In addition, the age of the object will stipulate the importance and rarity factor. The older the chair the higher the possible generated auction price may be. Another important value aspect considered when evaluating the item is the intricate adjustment features. The more detailed and sophisticated, the more in demand the chair is to collectors.
The Saint Louis based Archer Company patented their chair in 1878 and it is this particular version, complete with reclining lever and foot and head rests that today’s chairs are adapted from. Two prominent producers of the nineteenth century implemented design improvements such as a swivel component. Chicago based Theodore Koch and Cincinnati based Eugene Berninghaus manufactured barber chairs updated with these additions.
If you are lucky enough to own an original Koch or Berninghaus antique barber chair produced by either of these manufacturers; also including well-known designer Ernest Koken you may be sitting on a small fortune. Ernest Koken is memorable for adding hydraulic features to the chair and enjoyed induction into the Barber’s Hall of Fame. Collectors consider antique barber chairs originating from any of these individuals to be “Holy Grail” of chairs.
The timelessness of antique barber chairs include many value-increasing features not found in today’s styles. The amount of original material adds to the rarity. Many valuable chairs provide stunning etched designs. Hand crafted artwork may be found on the chrome-plated footrests as well as the iron-plated hand rests. Quality wood materials of oak, elmwood, mahogany and rosewood are distinct features. Furthermore, collectors inspect antique barber chairs for the unique reclining and elevating systems, which are often gas-piston operated. Collectors and auction houses look for a chair with minimum or no restoration; original seat cushions may be soiled or torn but provide a higher selling value than a restored seat cushion.
There are avenues available for individuals interested in evaluating the current worth of their barber chair. Several on-line websites provide dealers who specialize in collecting, selling and evaluating this particular genre. Although many on-line bidding sites provide opportunities for auctioning a valuable chair, it is recommended procuring the services of a professional, reputable and knowledgeable auction house or antique collector. This is a smart investment for securing your item throughout the entire buying and selling process.
If you are looking to invest in an antique chair or sell an existing one, it is imperative to research the antique dealer for authenticity. It helps if the dealer belongs to a reputable body such as The Antique and Art Dealers Association of America. Before meeting with a reputable dealer, research the individual’s background thoroughly. If they are reputable, the internet should provide a wealth of important information including business associations, customer reviews, industry awards and years of operation. Additionally, research your barber chair thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with the objects features and compare them to a similar item. Whether seeking to own an antique chair or you would like to know the value of your investment, the strongest advice is to implement thorough research.