Who invented the First Rocking Chair? (Invention Timeline Explained)

The world around us is moving very fast. Our days involve endless meetings, heavy traffic, and jam-packed schedules. So, the thought of sitting in a corner while reading a book or enjoying coffee gives joy to our hearts. This is the reason why people fell in love with rocking chairs.

Rocking chairs are symbols of relaxation, lazy hours, and stress-free days. Many people purchase rocking chairs as reminders to slow down and take a break. Rockers were placed in gardens, porches, living rooms, and nurseries. We’ve seen them in movies, magazines, and TV shows. Famous people, older people, young mothers, and teachers love rocking chairs. They become an escape for tired people from school, work, or household chores. This is a quick rundown of the history of rocking chairs – the people and the reasons behind the invention.

Who invented the first rocking chair?

Some historians claim that farmers and cabinetmakers from the Victorian era created the first rocking chair. However, Benjamin Franklin is the person credited for the first recorded creation of the rocking chair.

The rocking chair’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • North American Craftsmen
    The First People to Use Rockers

    The concept of the rocking chair originated in North America. Historians suggest that during the 18th century, craftsmen, cabinetmakers, and even farmers. They made their rocking chairs by attaching rockers to regular chairs.

  • Benjamin Franklin
    The Inventor of Rocking Chair

    Benjamin Franklin is credited with the invention of the first rocking chair. His design was inspired by an incident that happened at church. He wanted to make a comfortable chair while sitting down and could support him swiftly when getting up.

  • Peter Cooper (1830)
    The First Steel Rocking Chair

    Peter Cooper is an American inventor. He devised a more straightforward and minimalist design for a steel chair. He improved the Victorian style by replacing the rockers and chair’s legs with a curve frame. Cooper’s design allows a more soothing back and forth motion.

  • Michael Thonet (1860)
    The First Bentwood Rocking Chair

    Michael Thonet is a German-Austrian inventor, craftsman, and cabinet maker. He devoted his career to utilizing wood bending techniques. He made elegant, comfortable, and durable furniture using his method. In 1860, he created the first bentwood rocking chair.

  • Sam Maloof (1950)
    The Ski-shaped Rockers

    Sam Maloof is an American craftsman. He became famous for his rocking chair design, shaped like skis.

When was the first rocking chair invented?

Benjamin Franklin invented the first rocking chair in 1710. However, historians believe that earlier versions of rocking chairs existed way back to the 16th century.

A brief history of rocking chairs

Rocking chairs have become staple home furniture. People love the comfort and relaxation that rocking chairs give them. The history of how rocking chairs were made is actually pretty interesting. People first used them as outdoor chairs on porches and gardens where they could relax or nap. Historians believe that the first rocking chairs were designed for busy moms. Back then, moms held their babies and lulled them to sleep. The invention of rocking chairs freed moms’ hands. As the baby sleeps in her lap, moms can do minimal tasks like sewing or knitting. 

Benjamin Franklin, an American inventor, was often credited for the official invention of the rocking chair. He went on a church outing with his sister when the inspiration struck. He struggled to find a comfortable chair while sitting down and was easy to maneuver standing up. Because of this dilemma, he designed the first rocking chair. It was a seat between two chairs- one in front with one leg held up and another behind him with one leg holding up. 

After Benjamin Franklin’s concept of a rocking chair, many inventors and craftsmen developed their own styles. One of which is Peter Cooper. In 1830, Cooper designed a metal rocking chair with minimal design. His rocking chair had a curve frame instead of legs, allowing a more smooth and soothing back and forth motion.

In 1860, the German-Austrian inventor Michael Thonet created a rocking chair using wood-bent techniques. He managed to create a beautiful, elegant, and more durable version of the rocking chair. Then, in 1950, another craftsman named Sam Maloof improved the previous designs. Instead of attached rockers or curved frames, he used a ski-like design to make the rocking chair more aesthetically appealing.

Since then, craftsmen have made different versions and improvements of the rocking chair. Nowadays, you can find rocking chairs of various sizes, styles, and purposes. 

The rocking chair timeline

  1. 18th Century
    For Babies

    The first rocking chairs were used by mothers to soothe their sleeping babies. The concept gave them time to do activities like sewing and knitting while cradling their babies in their laps.

  2. 1710
    The Invention of Rocking Chair

    Benjamin Franklin was credited with developing the first actual rocking chair.

  3. 1787
    An Official Word

    In 1787, the word “rocking chair” was officially added to the dictionary. It appeared in the Oxford dictionary as “a chair mounted on springs or rockers.”

  4. 18th Century
    Favorite Outdoor Chair

    Rocking chairs became popular in the 18th century. They adorned almost every porch, patio, deck, garden, and front lawn. People also started using them in their nurseries and living rooms.

  5. 1900
    Folding Rocking Chairs

    Because of its popularity, people wanted to bring their rocking chairs during picnics, vacations, or camping trips. However, they were difficult to transport because they were bulky and heavy. In the early 1900’s inventors designed folding rocking chairs.

Where was the first rocking chair invented?

The first rocking chairs originated in England. Although scholars and historians attribute its creation to Northern American during the Victorian era.

The importance of the rocking chair

  • Improves mental health

    Endorphins, known as mood boosters, are released by the brain because of the soothing and smooth back and forth motion of a rocking chair. So, using it is proven to improve one’s mental health.

  • Helps treat insomnia

    For people with a hard time sleeping, a rocking chair might be a big help. Just like how babies fall asleep in rockers, a rocking chair’s smooth back and forth motion can have the same effect. Rocking chairs can lessen stress levels and induce sleep.

  • Reduces back pain

    Since rocking chairs can improve posture, they also minimize neck and back pain. The gentle and smooth movement of the chair can improve blood circulation and reduces muscle tension and inflammation.

  • Provides emotional support

    The benefits of a rocking chair do not stop in the physical aspect of the body. It also helps improve concentration, relaxes the mind, and soothes the soul.

The rocking chair by the numbers

  • 3There are different types and styles of rocking chairs. However, they are classified mainly into 3 types: rockers, gliders, and platform rockers.
  • $100-$3,500The value of an antique rocker or rocking chair ranges from $100-$3500. The price depends on the chair’s style, material, condition, and age.
  • 16.5 millionOver 16.5 million pieces of rocking chairs were sold each year. Twelve million of these consumers are Americans. 
  • 56 ft 1 inThe largest rocking chair, displayed in Casey, Illinois, is 56 ft and 1 inch tall and 32 ft and 10 in wide. Jim Bolin created it.

Five facts about the rocking chair

  • Why is it called “Rocking Chair”?

    In the early 18th century, furniture like rocking horses and rocking cradles was very trendy. So, people find it fitting to name the new invention “rocking chair” since it follows almost the same concept.

  • It is America’s favorite chair

    Rocking chairs have been symbols of relaxation for most Americas. There was a time when parties and gatherings involved rocking chairs, cigars, cocktails, newspapers, and coffee. Even at present, millions of Americans still purchase rocking chairs annually. 

  • Famous chair for famous people

    Rocking chair’s popularity is also attributed to different prominent figures who fancy the chair. John F. Kennedy had a special rocking chair to help ease his back pain. Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is also a big fan of rocking chairs.

  • Rocking is in human nature.

    The love of the soothing back and forth movement brought by rocking is innate to human nature. Since it improves sleep quality, relaxes the body, and boosts mood, it is only natural that humans would love rocking chairs.

  • Rocking chairs are works of art.

    The evolution of the rocking chair’s design and style is not just for practicality. It also shows the creativity of craftsmen. Nowadays, you can buy rocking chairs made of hardwoods, teak, lumber, softwoods, and even plastic.

FAQ about the rocking chair

  • What are the different parts of a rocking chair?

    When buying a rocking chair, it is crucial to check its various components to ensure that their designs will fit you. A rocking chair comprises of arms for elbow support, legs for stability, a comfortable seat, rails, back, and stretchers. 

  • What makes a good rocking chair?

    Choose a rocking chair that fits your style, can support your whole body, can be adjusted, and is comfortable enough to relax your neck and back.

  • How do I stop my rocker from making a sound?

    Squeaking is normal for rocking chairs, especially if they are made of wood. It can be fixed by applying a generous amount of wood glue to the loose parts of your chair. 

  • What do you call the bottom part of a rocking chair?

    The curved parts at the bottom of your chair are called rockers or rocker rails. They are the reason why rocking chairs can smoothly rock back and forth.

Leave a Comment