Rocking chair

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Rocking" redirects here. For the street dance known as "Rocking", see Uprock.
For other uses, see Rocking Chair (disambiguation).
A Thonet rocking chair

A rocking chair or rocker is a type of chair with two curved bands (also known as rockers) attached to the bottom of the legs, connecting the legs on each side to each other. The rockers contact the floor at only two points, giving the occupant the ability to rock back and forth by shifting his/her weight or pushing lightly with his/her feet.[1][2] Rocking chairs are most commonly made of wood. Some rocking chairs can fold.


The word rocking chair comes from the verb to rock.[3] The first known use of the word rocking chair was in 1766.[4]


A rocking chair designed by Swedish painter and furniture designer, Karin Bergöö Larsson

Rocking chairs are sometimes associated with maturity and class. They are also often associated with parenting as the gentle rocking motion can soothe infants.[5]

Many adults find rocking chairs soothing because of the gentle motion. One's brain may associate the rocking motion with that of the safety and comfort felt when rocking in a mother's arms or cradle or perhaps even a mother's womb. It has been shown that the motion of gentle rocking relaxes the body and allows people to sleep better.[6]

Rocking chairs are also comfortable because, when a user sits in one without rocking, the chair automatically rocks backward until the sitter's center of gravity is met, thus granting an ergonomic benefit with the occupant kept at an unstressed position and angle. Varieties of rockers include those mounted on a spring base (or platform) called "platform rockers" and those with swinging braces commonly known as gliders.[7]


A photo of man lounging in a rocking chair while reading

Though American inventor Benjamin Franklin is sometimes credited with inventing the rocking chair, historians actually trace the rocking chair's origins to North America during the early 18th century, when Franklin was a child.[7] They were originally used in gardens and were just ordinary chairs with rockers attached. It was in 1725 that early rocking chairs first appeared in England. The production of wicker rocking chairs reached its peak in America during the middle of the 18th century. These wicker rockers, as they were popularly known, were famous for their craftsmanship and creative designs.

Michael Thonet, a German craftsman, created the first bentwood rocking chair in 1860.[8] This design is distinguished by its graceful shape and its light weight. These rocking chairs were influenced by Greek and Roman designs as well as Renaissance and colonial era artistry.[8]

During the 1920s, however, folding rocking chairs became more popular in the United States and in Europe. They were handy for outdoor activities and travel purposes. By the 1950s, rocking chairs built by Sam Maloof, an American craftsman, became famous for their durability and deluxe appearance. Maloof's rocking chairs are distinguished by their ski-shaped rockers.[9]

The 'Kennedy Rocker' rocking chair[edit]

President John F. Kennedy made the P&P Chair Company rocking chair famous. In 1955, Kennedy was prescribed swimming and use of a rocking chair by his physician having suffered with lingering back problems. The president so enjoyed the rocker that he took it on Air Force One when he traveled around the country and the world. He bought additional rockers for Camp David and the Kennedy estates, and gave them as gifts to friends, family and heads of state. Per the manufacturing design, the Kennedy Rocking Chair is shaped, stem-bent and assembled while the wood is still "green".[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rocking chair". The Free Dictionary By Farkex. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Rocking chair". Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Rocker". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Rocking chair". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Rocking chairs". Parents. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Rocked To Sleep: Not Just For Babies Anymore". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Fact Sheet on Rocking chairs". Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Michael Thonet and his Bentwood Rocking Chair". Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Sam Maloof, Furniture Craftsman, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  10. ^ "History Of The Kennedy Rocker". Kennedy Rockers. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Kennedy Rocker". P&P Chair Company. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Rocking chairs at Wikimedia Commons