Morris Chair

Morris Chair

 

Reclining mechanism

Reclining mechanism

 

A faithful reproduction of a 1904 Stickley version of a chair first designed and built in 1866. Produced with quarter-sawn white oak. $1200 without cushions, $1800 with fine leather cushions.

Morris chairs feature a seat with a reclining back and moderately high armrests, which give the chair an old-style appearance. The characteristic feature of a Morris chair is a hinged back, set between two un-upholstered arms, with the reclining angle adjusted through a row of pegs, holes or notches in each arm. In other instances, the reclining of the back is controlled by a metal bar set in hooked back racks. The original Morris chair had dark stained woodwork, turned spindles and heavily decorated upholstery, in typical Victorian style.

The chair was widely copied after Morris’ introduction, and is still manufactured. The appearance and style of upholstery is usually quite different from Morris’s, but the overall layout is constant. There are two rather distinct types of these chairs. One type, called the “traditional” Morris chair evolved in America evolving directly from the Morris original. It often features carving and serpentine shapes. These chairs were produced in the hundreds of thousands from about 1890 to 1930 in versions ranging from affordable to very high-end. At the low price end, these chairs were sold by The Larkin Soap Company and other large firms such as Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. The more expensive chairs were those made by Horner and other exclusive furniture makers.

The other style of Morris chair is called the “Mission” or the “Craftsman” Morris chair. The best known examples are those were first produced by Gustav Stickley in 1904 and then widely copied afterwards. These are in the American Craftsman idiom, rather than English Arts & Crafts styles. Woodwork is lightly finished and largely undecorated oak in rectangular sections. Upholstery comprises unframed cushions in brown leather, or green or brown fabric. The Craftsman or Mission style of Morris chair is often thought of as a Stickley design named in homage to Morris, rather than an original Morris piece. As with all Stickley, these chairs are keenly collected today and originals fetch several thousands of dollars.


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