There’s nothing to say that doll’s chairs must be designed for use in a doll’s house. They can also be made a size or two bigger to make them more suitable for playing with on the floor or a table, or together with dolls that themselves are a little larger in scale.
Over the years there have been entire suites of doll’s furniture, all reflecting the interior decoration ideas of the day. So it’s intriguing to speculate on when this enchanting little rocking chair might first have seen the light of day.
An educated guess might place it sometime in the late 1800s.
When made for adults, the full-sized counterparts of chairs like this with long rockers are called ‘Boston rockers’. They originated in the USA and started to appear in Europe shortly after the middle of the nineteenth century.
The ‘American rocker’ is the name given to a type of rocking chair with short rockers fixed to a frame with coil springs.
This toy chair measures 11 cm high by 6 cm in width. The painted motif on the seat is a lilliputian depiction of a Chinese landscape complete with a pagoda and a Chinese labourer. Everything has been replicated with meticulous attention to detail to resemble the full-sized original.
Until recently the chair lay hidden in a box together with other toys that no one has played with for the past 80 years.
It was inherited from a relative in Stockholm in the 1930s, but it never really held any great appeal for the little girl to whom it was bequeathed. She much rather preferred to spend her time playing with her big, furry teddy bears.
It is thought that her Stockholm relative had been given the chair when she herself was a child, and so it was passed on through the family down the years.
Now, however, we have lifted the lid on the toy box to reveal a hidden and almost forgotten miniature antique, exquisitely fashioned in sheet metal.
The rocking chair was born in America in 1742. That may be stated with the utmost confidence. We also know that it was called a ladder-back because of the ladder-like rails in the back-rest.
There then followed a succession of different models with different names in a process of evolution that continues even today. One Englishman who visited the United States thought that effect that the motion of the rocking chair had on the body was so curative that he described it as “wooden narcotics”.
It is said that President Kennedy suffered from severe back problems and that his doctor prescribed the use of a rocking chair as therapy.
The writer Witold Rybczynski tells us that the president had fourteen rocking chairs strategically placed in, for example, Camp David, the family’s summer residence at Hyannis Port, the Oval Room in the White House and even in the presidential jet, Air Force One.
Written by Gun Bjerkander Handberg
Note from the Editor- If you enjoy the blog, both books are now available online and at all decerning bookshops. Please Be Seated – Historic Chairs and The Tales They tell & Please Be Seated – More Historic Chairs and The Tales They Tell.