Little-Known Facts About Chairs That Might Surprise You

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Little-Known Facts About Chairs That Might Surprise You

We live in the golden era of chairs, we often see them in our everyday lives. We often find chairs to be omnipresent: in our homes, in our school classes, in parks, and even in public areas. Chairs are essential and universally present in our everyday lives. Chairs have existed for a very long time, they were used as exclusive pieces of seats used by conquerors and kings, warlords, bards, prophets and even superstars. 

Once you start to pay attention and notice of how common chairs are, you would probably come across dozens of chairs made of different materials in all shapes and sizes. Chairs can be made of different materials, such as wood, plastic, metal and even exquisite materials. What most people do not know about chairs is the fact that as common as the humble chair is, they have a rather intriguing history.  Here are a few little-known and interesting facts about chairs you may not have known.


1. The Earliest Known Chairs were Designed to be Glamorous and Fancy

  • Chairs have existed since ancient times of Egyptians, Aztecs, Romans and Greeks. 
  • The earliest forms of chairs were handcrafted from priceless materials, like gold, ivory, ebony, and were often decorated with rare gemstones and coloured glass. 
  • Chairs back then were seats mounted on legs decorated with the predatory claws of lions, the talons of eagles or the hooves of buffalos to represent the status of royal dynasties.
  • One of the most ornate and priceless chairs that is still in existence today is the mighty throne of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, the ‘Boy King’.


2. The word “Chair” originates from the word “cathedra”, a Latin word that translates to “to sit down”.


3. The game “Musical Chairs” was first recorded and occured in the year 1877.


4. Interesting fast facts about electric chairs: –

  • Electric chairs (which was invented by Nikola Tesla)  were first financed by none other than Thomas Edison himself in 1889, primarily as a tactic to try and scare people into using DC current, rather than AC current.
  • The Emperor Menelik II of Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia) loved Edison’s invention and saw the electric chair as a way of dealing decisively with his political opposition. Due to the fact that his country didn’t have electricity, the Emperor turned his electric chair into a throne instead.


5. The Creation of Modern Office Chair Has Four Fathers

  • It’s a fact that Charles Darwin was the father of the modern office chair. He initially invented it by putting on wheels to the bottom of his Captain’s Chair so he could move around his office and get to his work easily.
  • While the story above about Charles Darwin is true, he wasn’t the only innovator that helped bring the modern office chair into the world. Some of the credit goes to Thomas Jefferson. 
  • While Thomas Jefferson’s favorite chair didn’t have wheels, but it certainly did sport a unique innovation: His chair could swivel. In fact, it is believed that Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence in his trusty swivel chair.
  • It would be over fifty years before the two key features (wheels and swiveling) would be combined in one chair. This happened thanks to the innovation of Thomas E. Warren, who designed a chair, the “Centripetal Spring Armchair,” which was an elaborately designed, extremely comfortable chair designed for work.
  • Warren’s design failed to attract people as it was seen as being “too comfortable”  the public feared workers who use the chair will grow lazier and reduce work productivity.
  • The final “Father figure” to innovate office chairs is none other than Otto Von Bismarck, who did more than just about anyone on the planet to popularize the use of what we understand today as the modern office chair.  Bismark’s goal was to boost the productivity of government employees, and he saw the emerging office chair as a practical means of doing just that, ordering hundreds of them for many government officials at all levels.


6. The first rocking chair was invented in 1710, by including a pair of ice skates to the bottom of a banquet chair.


7. There is actually a haunted chair known as the Dead Man’s Chair.

  • In 1702, a man named Busby murdered his father-in-law for sitting in his favourite chair at the local drinking hole. On his way to the gallows, Busby apparently popped into the pub to put a curse on the chair.
  • According to reports, anyone who dares to sit on the Dead Man’s Chair would end up suffering a premature and nasty death. 
  • Today, the very same chair is suspended from the rafters in a Yorkshire Museum to avoid the 316-year-old curse from claiming another victim.


8. The most expensive chair in the world costs about 28.3 million USD (about 115, 704,500 MYR) is a gorgeous 20th century Art Deco piece designed by Eileen Gray, one of the most famous pioneers of modernist architecture.


And there you have it, 8 little known facts about chairs. Chairs have existed for a very long time but there are a lot of surprising things we didn’t know about these everyday used seats.