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Who Invented The Folding Chair?


Folding chairs are an essential piece of furniture in the average household. They are inexpensive, portable, and practical. Most chairs have an ageless design of four legs, a backrest, and a seat. But in a folding chair, things become more exciting. This is because, as the name suggests, this type of chair can collapse and fold into a smaller shape. This unique feature allows for easy storage and organization in a home.
Furthermore, folding chairs are perfect for entertaining guests on different occasions. For example, folding chairs are your go-to guy if you want to host a large gathering like a wedding or a religious meeting. Because of how functional folding chairs are, the device is now a common sight in almost every corner.
Do you ever wonder about their origins? About who invented the folding chair? The history of folding chairs is complicated and intriguing. Let’s get right to it!

folding chair

History of Folding Chairs

Unlike most inventions, the “folding chair inventor” title does not belong to a single person. The history of this device dates back to ancient times, several millennia ago, in places like Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In those days, folding chairs were much simpler in design. They were X-shaped and covered with fur, cloth, or thatch at the top.

Olden-day folding chairs have extremely diverse structures from today’s modern folding chairs. As symbols of prestige and wealth, these chairs were reserved exclusively for royalty and people of high status. Only until the Middle Ages, when churches around Europe began to use them, did folding chairs become more obtainable. After that, folding chairs slowly spread in popularity. As a result, they are now one of the most common assets of the average person.


Who Invented The Folding Chair?

There are many names associated with the creation of folding chairs. However, credit for this invention goes to four individuals from different annals of history. Their combined labor created the blueprint for our modern folding chairs.
Read on to discover the answers to the questions, “Who invented folding chairs” and “When were folding chairs invented.”

  • John Cram

John Cram is arguably the first folding chair inventor (although there are a few other names). In 1855, he created an armless chair that resembles the modern folding chair. In his patent filings, John Cram mentions an earlier patent by J. Middleton. Unfortunately, there are no records of any patent before the year 1855. There is no evidence to show the related work of an inventor by that name. Cram’s patent is recognized globally as the earliest patent related to the history of the folding chair. After John, numerous patents for other folding chairs were filed. These patents feature various styles and modifications to the folding chair.

  • Nathaniel Alexander

If someday, someone suddenly asks you the question; Who invented the folding chair, and when was the folding chair invented? What will be your response? You’ll respond with Nathaniel Alexander in 1911.
Nathaniel is by far the most popular among all the folding chair inventors. And for a good reason. The Nathaniel Alexander folding chair uses Cram’s design as a template for a superior version. This version is more convenient and valuable. In his patent, Alexander states that his creation will be used in churches and other auditoriums. His design includes a thinner chair with arms and a noticeable backrest. This backrest functions as a desk or shelf for the person behind it. The Nathaniel Alexander folding chair has features that are suitable for churches. It is very practical for the choir and congregation to rest their music sheets and prayer books.

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  • Philip E.G. Harrison

In 1931, Philip Harrison created what we know today as the party chair. Harrison’s design is very similar to today’s modern folding chairs. It features a metal frame, fabric seat, fabric back, and pivot, making the chair foldable. Like every great invention, this new folding chair had a drawback. Although ingenious, Harrison’s design was complex and, therefore, not suitable for mass production.
This problem would plague the furniture industry for many years until Frederic Arnold improved the design.

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  • Fredric Arnold

Several years after Philip Harrison is Arnold, who enters the fray and makes the folding chair into a much simpler structure. Fredric Arnold’s folding chair features a fabric seat and an aluminum frame. Compared to the others, this design is rather simple. But this simplicity carved the path for a new era and made mass production possible.

The world, since then, hasn’t witnessed any significant change to the folding chair. Designers strive to retain the traditional structure while creating folding chairs that are as functional as ever. Schools, churches, parties, and large events hosting numerous people are places where folding chairs reign supreme. And although they all maintain the same basic structure, folding chairs come in various unique styles and shapes. Additionally, folding chairs have more versatility and are made from plastic, wood, and even metal. The possibilities are endless!

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After our brief history session, you can see how exciting the origin of an everyday object can be. The question of who invented the folding chair has a variety of answers. It is important to note that this answer consists of several talented inventors. All of whom made the folding chair into a device we know and love.
This post tells the brief tales and accomplishments of the individuals who created the folding chair. But feel free to research the topic if you’d like more in-depth knowledge. Because, above all, information is power.

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