We've all seen folks with rooms full of antique artwork, cars, toys, coins, clocks and what have you. Antique barber chairs however, aren't as common as the other collectibles. It's not that the chairs are only for those involved in the barber shop or salon business. Sure, they are more likely to collect them, but these antique pieces are generally for anyone who can sit on a chair. They can be used as display pieces in a spa or in tattoo shops. They can also serve as leisure seats during idle moments. For savvy investors, they could be worthy investments. Whatever the purpose, these chairs are certainly worth talking about.
Barber chairs began in Rome in 296 B.C. Back then, barber shops were places for gossip. A variety of information have been exchanged in these establishments. Want to know the latest trend? Having second thoughts on a certain politician? There's only one place to find answers. If one needed to know the talk of the town, there was no better place to go but a barber shop. Apparently, barber shops were like taxi drivers in modern times. They are good sources of information.
During the Roman times, these chairs were designed luxuriously as if the one sitting on them was a member of royalty. These days, barber chairs are more tailored to functionality rather than design. We now have styles with adjustable footrests and removable headrests for comfort. We also have models with reclining back rests and powered by hydraulics for convenience.
Koken chairs are one of the most popular antique barber chairs among collectors. The Koken Barber's Supply Co. based in St. Louis manufactured them during the late 1800's, and they were regarded as groundbreaking at that time due to their hydraulic design. German-born Ernest Koken was the owner of the business and is also the inventor the design. The company went out of business in the fifties and was acquired by its competitor, Takara Belmont roughly ten years later. Kokens are highly sought after because of their elegant design and exceptional quality. It's no wonder that they've made it through the years. Depending on the condition, a restored piece can sell for several thousand dollars.
The barber's chair has since become a unique piece that we see in shops, spas and salons today. It is often used as a display in museums, specialty shops, pawn shops and in homes of private collectors. Then again, it is a great conversation piece. They have become a symbol of comfort and chatter.