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English tripolina, 19th century
Italian tripolina, 1930s

The 'Tripolina' is a folding chair made out of wood with metal swivel joints and animal hide. It was invented by Joseph B. Fenby and patented in the United States in 1881.[1]

The Tripolina chair was made from prior to WWII by the firm of Viganò in Tripoli, Libya, for the expatriate Italian market as a camping chair of great stability in the sand and made from local wood and camel or cow hide. The Italian firm of Viganò clearly stamped their products on the rear of the hides with their large "Paolo Viganò Tripoli" oval seal. The hide is nowadays often replaced by canvas or other materials.

Further inspirations[edit]

The chair has inspired other folding chairs, the famous BKF Chair for instance, also known as Butterfly chair, which used curved parts of metal instead of the wooden structure and was made up of four separate pieces to allow for ergonomic comfort of the user as single piece covers place too much stress on the coccyx.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "J. B. FENBY, FOLDING CHAIR". United States Patent and Trademark Office. July 12, 1881. Retrieved 2013-07-19.