Last updated: January 18th, 2023

Ja-Doc Inglis presents

A List of Things

10 Famous Chairs in History.

By A.J. Leal

Have a seat.

Over history, mankind had achieved many great exploits of all sorts.  From the discovery of fire to the conquest of the seas.  From the splitting the atom to setting foot on the moon.  Needless to say, the human race is full of accomplishments and there’s no shortage of men who are heroes of history.

But regardless of how history was changed by these gentlemen, they all have one thing common.  One simple and undeniable truth, however small it may be.  The fact that all makers of history, at the end have to sit down and relax.  Now, clearly the act of sitting  down is an old one and it is unknown when it was discovered, but I suspect that it had something to do with the discovery of gravity.  So in the honour of these men on this Father’s Day, we have compiled a list of famous chairs through history.

So have a seat and enjoy this non-scientific list (in no specific order) of 10 Famous Chairs in History. This is Part 2 of our Famous Chairs in Pop Culture & History series.  If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

No 1: King Edward’s Chair.

King Edward's Chair

King Edward’s chair has been used for the coronation of every monarch in England since the 14th century, except for Queen Mary II.  The Stone of Scone itself, that was placed under the throne until 1996 when it was returned to Scotland, was traditionally used to coronate monarchs in Scotland.  Today, King Edward’s chair is without its stone for the first time in 700 years.  It’s for the best I think, I mean if you think your recliner is heavy, do you imagine if it had a 336 pounds sandstone rock in it.

No 2. Abraham Lincoln’s chair.

Abraham Lincoln's Chair

Few chairs in history are as infamous as this one.  Abraham Lincoln (who was not a vampire hunter by the way, in case you were wondering) was killed by William Booth on 14 April 1865.  The chair today cleaned and restored to its former glory, can be seen at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.  Contrary to popular belief, the stain on it isn’t Lincoln’s blood but just plain old hair oil.  Is it me or that’s worse somehow?  It’s me? Okay.

No 3. Orson Welles’ Director chair.

Orson Welles' Director's Chair

If you ask me (you don’t have to), movies are very important for history.  Which is why I see Orson Welles as a historical figure.  The man was truly a genius and his movies broke the mold so many times.  From the angles of his directorial debut Citizen Kane to the long take of Touch of Evil seen here, the man was an intimidating person by his sheer presence and charisma.  Seeing a director’s chair with his name on it would drive a movie buff like me wild.  By contrast, if I saw Michael Bay’s director’s chair, I might just laugh. Or cry. Or both.

No 4. Ian Fleming’s writing chair.

Ian Fleming's Writer's Chair

If you ask me (again), books are also very important in history.  Authors are hunters of moments in time and history.  Yes, even Ian Fleming. The man is clearly a product of his era.  As an MI6 officer, he didn’t see much action and clearly had a romantic idea of the Cold War.  Something that is contrasted by the dark and realistic work of John LeCarré, for example, a fellow MI6 operative.  Still – look at the man.  He’s cool.  It’s from that chair that he wrote the adventures of his alter ego, James Bond.  The most I’ve written on my office chair is my grocery list.  Not the same.

No 5. William Shakespeare’s Courting Chair.

William Shakespeare's Courting Chair

Throughout history, objects gain a certain legend of their own.  We like to mystify them, create stories around them inspired by their owners.  If I played Mozart’s piano, would I create timeless melodies?  If I painted with Van Gogh’s brush, would I  imagine starlit landscapes?  If I sat on William Shakespeare’s courting chair, would I utter words of such imminent depth and beauty that I might win my lady’s heart in a sonnet?  No of course not.  It’s just a chair that once belonged to the barb and recently resurfaced, that’s all.  Still… cool though.

No 6. Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair.

Stephen Hawking's Wheelchair

Stephen Hawking is one of my all time favourites.  His mind is just literally out of this world.  From Black Holes to time travel and quantum mechanics, the man has expanded our knowledge of the universe.  His book – A Brief History of Time – is a fascinating read for anyone willing to have their minds blown away by things they don’t understand.  And trust me, my mind gets blown away quite often.  The most amazing part, is that Professor Hawking did all this from his wheelchair he’s been using since the late 1960’s due to his Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) which gradually paralyzed him leaving him unable to move or even speak.  If that doesn’t blow your mind, nothing will.

No 7. Vincent Van Gogh’s chair.

Vincent Van Gogh's Chair

Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favourite artists.  A gentle soul and a broken man, he never knew how beloved his art would become.  In ten years, he made around 900 paintings and only sold one.  Like a modern rock star, he became famous after his death in 1890.  A man with such sadness (his last words were “The sadness will last forever”), yet he created such beautiful paintings like Cafe Terrace Place du Forum, Starry Night (which I love) and, of course, the Chair.  Proof that beauty can transcend anything, even despair.

No 8. Winston Churchill’s bunker chair.

Winston Churchill's Bunker Chair

Winston Churchill is clearly one of history’s most badass politicians ever.  His cool demeanour and unshakeable confidence inspired many in Blitz-torn London.  His sign of victory is iconic and has become a bold statement in the face of adversity.  A sign that sadly no one knows how to do properly today.   Really people, the palm has to face outward otherwise you’re saying something completely different.  Churchill was a rock but he was also a man.  The scratches left on the arms of his bunker chair speak volumes.

No 9. John A. MacDonald’s chair.

John A. MacDonald's Chair

This chair (which JDI had the privilege of cleaning recently, by the way) once belonged to another bad-ass: Sir John A. MacDonald.  You know, that man who was Canada’s first Prime Minister, builder of Canada’s first railway, the first to be on our money (he was on the $500 note in 1935) and essentially The Father of Canada.

Need I say more?

No 10. The Bronte Chair.

The Bronte Chair

But where does the chair come from? Well it comes from the antiquity and that’s what all we know. Sadly, the history of the chair is a simple one. From antiquity, where it was used mainly as status symbol like a throne. In ancient Egypt, it was full of splendour with representation of beasts; in Roman times, some chairs were made of marble. Try vacuuming under that!

But it wasn’t until the Renaissance that chairs became a common item for a house…provided one could afford it. There is not a definitive first chair but the Bronte Chair sure comes close. The author of Wuthering Heights used  it to tell stories while playing in the moors of Haworth.  I’m speculating, of course, but if we look at the chair shaped stone, it isn’t difficult to imagine it could very well be the first ever chair in existence.  But I’m no expert.

And these are 10 Famous Chairs in History. Very important items yes, but not more important than the men and women who used t hem. Some discovered the universe from their chair, others saved it.  While one actually painted a chair.  Regardless how chairs have been used, one thing is certain, they all need a good cleaning sooner or later.

Father’s Day is the best time to clean your historical figure’s old chair at home. Trust our crew at JDI to do the job right, after all you never know, it might one day end up in a museum.

Have a Happy Father’s Day!