Victorian Rocking Chair Styles

Updated July 20, 2017

The Victorians loved innovation and nowhere is that more plainly felt than in their furniture. Rocking chairs were a favourite item in the home for nursing or for lounging in front of an open fire. That popularity is reflected in the different styles of rocking chairs designed during the period. The pressed back, slipper and platform rocking chairs were the most widely used styles. They ensured that there was a style of rocking chair available to suit any home or room.

Pressed Back Rocking Chair

The pressed back rocking chair, which was also called pressback, was the simplest of all Victorian rocking chair styles. They were mainly made from oak and were constructed with a timber seat panel surrounded by timber spindles to make the sides, back and legs of the seat. The whole thing was then placed onto a pair of bowed wooden rockers to give the rocking movement. Pressed back rockers could be plain and crude in design or could be highly detailed with carvings and wood turning. This style of Victorian rocking chair was not padded or upholstered, but cushions were often used for comfort. The pressed back chair got its name from the detail on the top rail of the chair, known as the crest rail, which was punched in using a steam press.

Slipper Rocking Chair

Slipper rocking chairs were often made in oak, ebony, walnut and mahogany. They had low seats and were intended for use in bedrooms as they were smaller than other kinds of chairs. They were still very decorative. There were two kinds of slipper chairs. The male version of the chair tended to be sturdy and covered in leather, with curving arms and buttoned detailing. The version intended to be used by women was small with a curved top, no arms and upholstered in floral fabric. Each of the kind of slipper chair rested on a bowed wooden rocker.

Platform Rocking Chair

Platform rocking chairs, which were also known as spring rocking chairs, were the most technically advanced version of the rocking chair because they did not rely on a bowed wooden rocker for movement. Instead this kind of chair used springs set below the seat and attached to the base or platform of the chair. This not only meant that this style of rocker could easily be set close to a wall, it also meant that the chair didn't rely on level flooring for its ability to be rocked. These chairs were solid in construction and could be finished with intricately carved wood or heavily padded and upholstered with velvet or embroidered textiles.

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