What is a Cooper rocking chair?

A Cooper rocking chair is a type of chair thought to have been designed by American industrialist, inventor and one-time presidential candidate Peter Cooper in the 19th Century. The chair used a curved metal frame to produce its rocking motion, as opposed to the distinctly separate rockers that were more common in rocking chair design at the time.


The chair had a functional, minimalist design that was very much at odds with the Victorian popular taste for heavily decorated and ostentatious designs. Where most rocking chairs had separate rockers fixed to regular chair legs, Cooper's chair used the curve of its frame to provide the rocking motion. It was made of steel or wrought iron with upholstery slung across the frame.


The chair is thought to have been designed by Peter Cooper and was manufactured by British company R.W. Winfield & Co. The Midlands-based firm exhibited examples of the chair at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations (sometimes referred to as the Crystal Palace Exhibition) in 1851 and the Great London Exposition of 1862.

Peter Cooper

Peter Cooper was an American industrialist and inventor. Having discovered iron ore on his property, he founded the Canton Iron Works in Baltimore. He designed and engineered the Tom Thumb, the first steam locomotive to be built in America and in 1876 he ran for the Greenback Party in the presidential election. At the age of 85, he was the the oldest person ever nominated by a political party for the office of President.

R.W. Winfield & Co.

R.W. Winfield & Co. of Birmingham took out several patents for furniture made of iron tubing in the middle part of the 19th Century, according to the Victoria and Albert Museum. As prominent brass founders, the company also produced a similar chair in brass. The chairs were used in part to demonstrate and promote uses for their new techniques of metal working.

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