How to date an old chair.

Hiddy Hi all you lawn chair cats!

I see today the weather folks all have just one thing to talk about. HEAT! Yeah, well, its summer and we all knew it was bound to happen. A heat wave has settled in on most of our Nation and Lordy me it is hot but here in Texas its just another day to us. If you’re in an area of the country that’s not used to this I surely hope it doesn’t last long before getting back to y’all’s normal. When folks ask me about Texas summers, I tell them it’s not for the uninitiated! You need to either be born here or get used to it by gradual degrees.

I had a call from very nice lady just this week and she was in the process of redoing her family’s old steel chairs. She had read my blog on finishing and they had chosen the powder coat route but needed a couple of questions answered about age. Before long, she had described for me chairs that were without question first generation Ed Warmack. They contained all the ingrediants I look for in dating a vintage chair. So the thought occured to me to give a slight lesson on how to date old stamped metal lawn chairs.

One of the first things to look for is in the frame. Almost all early lawn chairs utilized a one piece frame. This means the tube frame was made from a single length of pipe with no joints. This made a very strong frame and rust was not an issue for many years IF the tube frame did not receive too much water inside. However, once water entered the frame, it had no way to escape and corrosion began in earnest. A well kept vintage one piece frame chair used undercover should have a very solid frame but you still need to be cautious.

The next thing I look for in dating is the seat. If the seat has drain holes then you’ve surely got an early model. Again, most all early lawn chairs had certain tells and factory installed drain holes is one you can hang your hat on. Ed Warmack used holes in his early chair seats because he was just following behind the others. But, he soon learned those small holes designed to allow rain water to drain out with the idea of slowing down rust did exactly the opposite. You see, a hole by its very nature has a very sharp edge and these little guys just don’t hold paint worth a darn. So when you go to sit in your chair you’re wearing the paint off the holes from the very first. The paint just rubs off right at the hole and before long rust has gotten a foothold right where we don’t want it!

Ed designed what we call the “Tractor” seat about 1947. This is a seat with a slight dish molded to fit the sit’n area of a person. Then he formed in a little channel or canal which directs the water to the back of the chair and it just sort of seeps out between the back and the seat. This is why its so important to keep your lawn chairs washed out and free of leaves, pine straw and dirt. If allowed to accumulate, moisture can linger and rust moves in to help itself to our furniture.

Ed Warmack also changed the way we packaged lawn chairs in about 1949 when he developed the slip together three piece frame. Now he could put a whole chair in a box not much larger than a good sized briefcase and that meant more chairs in a rail car. Other chair makers used multi piece frames as well. Ed’s nemesis, Alvin Shott who at one time billed himself as the world’s largest manufacture of steel lawn furniture went to a three piece design but it had to be bolted together. Bolted style frames were inherently prone to rust and not as solid feeling when you were sitting in them.

So now you can look at a vintage chair and judge for yourself if its’s a true oldy or not. Drain hole chairs were made by various manufacterers up into the late 50’s but the numbers were gettin’ small. And the one piece frame didn’t last much past about 1955 from anybody.

Everyone have a happy and safe 4th!

Louis Torrans

61 thoughts on “How to date an old chair.

  1. I am currently working on two metal chairs. They both have the solid tube and drain holes as mentioned above. Mine also have a “B” in a circle embossed, located on the lower [(my) right facing the chair] corner of the “front” back of the chair. I can’t find any information on line, can you tell me something about this mark?

  2. Hello Jake,

    Thanks for the question. What you have is an example of a mid 40’s chair made by Alvin Shott of Cincinnati, Ohio. Shott made his lawn furniture in the Balcrank, Inc. plant. If you brush the stamp a little more and get closer to the base metal it should have “BALCRANK CINCINNATI OHIO” stamped just under the B in the circle. Alvin Shott was a major manufacuture from the 40’s and 50’s. In some of the later ads he boasted as being the “World’s largest manufacuter of all metal chairs.” That is until Ed Warmack got geared up and the two went head to head for many years over who made more chairs. The subject lacks adequate data to make a conclusion.

    Since your chairs have solid or one piece frames then they are certainly early pieces. Shott like Warmack went to three piece frames in the late 40s early 50s. I’m not sure Shott continued to manufacture much past the late 50s. He moved into tube/folding/aluminum furniture under the name “Lawn Lite”. These pieces were very well made and good examples are easy to find and very serviceable even today.

    Shott did not use Lawn Chair or Metal Lawn Chair in his ads. Instead they were listed as “Shott Chair”, “Porch Chair”, “Steel Chair” or “All Steel Chair”. Also, if you find chairs with a similar looking seat and back but with a flat spring type frame it is a Shott chair but this was his high end piece known and the “King Shott Chair”. These chairs sold for double what the tube frame chairs cost at the time. The prices from the 40s for chairs like yours ranged from about $2.50 to close to $4.00. The King chairs were almost always priced near $6.50. The chairs were available in red, yellow and green mostly. Early ones may have had black frames but mostly they were all one color or mono colored. The later chairs had white frames more often than not. There was also a double glider available as well as a two person settee or love seat. Gliders are somewhat easy to find but the settee is a bit more difficult but they do occationally show up.

    Good luck with your restoration!

    Louis Torrans

  3. I was under the impression that the tubular frame was not a anything bit a repro. I thought that a frame made of flat steel was the real old chairs. Tell me about the flat steel frame that is of two pieces. Arm and leg each the leg or base is shaped. Or bent like the tube ones thanks
    lady laurelle

  4. Hi Ms. Laurelle,

    Welcome to Retro Metal Chairs!

    You are right about the flat spring frame chairs being old. They date back to the mid 1940s. However, the first cantilever chairs of the 1930s were all made with tube material. These would be the ones designed during the Art Deco period and first intended for use in the home. They were chrome plated and made from one single piece of tubing. It was very stylish to have these in your home and considered quite modern in design. Then, someone, we’re not exactly sure but I do give a reasonable accounting in my new book coming out soon of whom it might have been, saw that the same design might be suitabale for outdoor use. All first generation lawn chairs used round tube material made from one piece of stock material. Three piece frames came onto the scene in the late 40s. From my research, the first conventional stamped metal lawn chair became available in large numbers about 1937/38. It had a clam shell back with one piece tube frame about 3/4″ in diameter. We produce a retro chair in this very design known as Parklane.

    The use of flat spring steel as a frame material for outdoor lawn chairs happened mostly after about 1946/47. Prior to this, steel was in rather short supply. Even coming out of sustained War production a manufacturer could not buy whatever steel material he desired. There were allotments enforced and this did not ease up until later in the 1940s making prodcution of flat frames all but impossible before this time.

    Right after WW II, Alvin Shott was making tube frame chairs, settees and gliders and later added to his line with what he termed “The Shott King Chair” which was his normal stamped metal seats and backs placed into a flat metal frame. You are not likely to see too many of these old chairs around I’m afraid. For one thing they were right at double the price! A regular tube frame chair in 1947 could be found on sale for about $2.50 to $3.50. Regualr price would have been around $4.50. But the Shott King Chair sold routinely for well over $6.00. The biggest reason for the added cost was all the extra steel used to make the frame. Not only was it thicker material but it was tempered to produce spring action. Regular steel would have just bent and buckled when made in flat form but when made into a round tube shape it functioned with some limited spring action. Therefore your normal tube frame chairs were made with less costly frame material.

    If you do run across one of the old Schott King chairs they should be in very repairable condition. Rust in generally not a problem due to the flat shape not holding water. Now there were two other designs using flat spring material. One was a sort of hybrid where the upper frame or the arms was made from regular round tube but at just under the seat it married to flat spring stock. The ones I’ve seen did not have stamped metal seats and backs but instead used thin flat slats forming the back and seat. These are very comfortable chairs but also very hard to find! Then there was a brief design using flat sheet metal welded into a perimeter frame of small diameter round tubing.

    I hope this answers your question. If you do happen onto an example of these flat spring frame chairs, you should give it close consideration. They were quite costly back in the day and are very difficult to obtain now not to mention even more valuable as a vintage item. I’m fairly certain the last time these chairs were available in stores would have been when Alvin Shott quit manufacturing which was around 1957 to 59.

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  5. I have a pair of refurbished chairs that look similar to your new Riviera style. They have holes drilled in the back of the seat and the seat is the “tractor” style with the dip in back. They also have arm rests attached to the tube frame (the tubing slides through holes in the arm rests and then the arm rests are bolted to the tubing to stay in place). I’ve only seen the armrest on a chair once before. Do you know the history of chairs being produced with the armrest? I also wondered if the new chairs without the drain holes collect water in the seat or if they are designed so that the water drains out between the seat and the back. Thanks, Shelly

  6. Gee, thanks. Due to my ignorance, I have stayed away from the tube frames because there are so many repros out there. I I did not want to pay vintage prices for something made today.
    So,I started to look for the flat frame. And I have found two of them for o$35.00 each rusty and a split in one clam back, which has been repaired, and soon a repaint, these will grace my front yard under my magnolia tree.
    Thanks for your help.

  7. Hi again Lady Laurelle,

    Wow! I think you made a great find and cool score on some truely assume chairs. Yes, old tube frame chairs are alwasys suspect for rust damage so you have to take care. But as far as retro goes like our products you don’t need to worry! Our chairs are laboratory tested to achieve a weight rating of 275 lbs. That’s the best in the industry and also better than what was being produced back in the day. Please send us some pics of your redone chairs!

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  8. Hi Ms. Shelly,

    Keep those old chairs out of the scrap yard! You may have examples of some very special pre WW II chairs!

    It sounds to me, you’re describing chairs designed by Viktor Schreckengost prior to WW II. He was a very active industrial designer and his work can be seen in things ranging from trucks, bicycles, peddle cars, lights, ceramics and other artwork. He lived to 101 and just died only a few years ago.

    His chairs were either styled just for Sears or he designed them on his on and sought out Sears. The history is unclear on just exactly which came first. Either way, Sears carried them for a very short time, I think maybe it was only one season before war broke out. And, it did not return after the war was over for reasons I’m not sure of but I do suspect he simply moved on to other projects. Their exact production figures are not known but I’m confident the number was not all that great. I consider them rare but I see them on the odd occasion.

    The arms and their installation are unique also. I’ve this chair with at least two versions. One, they are shaped like a bone in pork chop. That’s the only way I can adequately describe them! The rounded end made a slight arm rest but the bone part was hollow and the frame tube slipped inside. Then they were affixed to the frame permanently. The other was more long and rectangle shaped with slight ribs molded into the metal. They attached in the same manner

    I would be very interested if you could please send some photos. I might have additional information if I could see them.

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  9. I found an old metal chair looks like a shellback all one piece tube frame no holes in the bottom just at back where the shell goes down. I saw one picture on internet that looks like it they called a calumet. Would you have any information on this chair. Thanks,Becky

  10. Hi Ms. Campbell,

    Calumet manufactured one of the earliest metal lawn chairs bringing it to market about 1938. This is the chair that gave folks the idea to begin calling them “Shell Backs” or “Clam Shell” chairs. I believe they were even advertised using these names. Anyone looking at these will immediately recognize the similarity.

    I really don’t know anything about Calumet. The name is so often used that searching for history brings up a plethora of manufactures making everything under the sun, then and now. However, this particular Calumet may have employed a famous designer, John Gordon Rideout. Mr. Rideout was one of many industrial designers of the time. He is credited with having designed what I think is the same chair made by the Jr. Toy Company. I surmise that Calumet either sold or contracted with Jr. Toy just before or right after WW II. An article on Junior Toy Company does credit Mr. Rideout having come up with the design. The chair was sold through Sears for many years both during and after WW II. To my knowledge, it was the only metal lawn chair being made during the war but they were available in very limited numbers none the less. I think the last time this chair was advertised in news papers was in the early 1950s. They pretty much faded away around this time.

    One point of interest, I ran across an account of an aution where a near perfect surviving example of a Calumet made chair was found in a dark dusty corner of an old Chicago warehouse. They really played up the listing! All they left out was “It was a dark and stormy night..”. Anyway, the chair was is very good condition and most liley rarely if ever saw the light of day. It had all original paint and was undamaged. It was identified by its decal under the seat. The final auction price was $525.00. For me, that’s a record high. I’ve never seen any old metal chair coming even close this number!

    As for colors, red was very common as was blue, yellow and green. The frames came painted in black early on but it was more common to find them in an all mono color.

    In the early days, almost all metal lawn chairs were made with a one piece frame. It wasn’t until well after WW II that the three piece frame became the norm. However, to my knowledge this chair never had a multi piece frame and was always made in single unit frames.

    BTW. If you’re interested in this design, please look at our Parklane line. This is a retro reintroduction of the original Calumet/Jr. Toy chair.

    I hope this helps answer your question!

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  11. I too have a pair of chairs with not only armrest in wood but also bottom pieces of wood attached in 3 places on the floor pipes. These chairs were given to me by my uncle who served in WWII. He is still alive and 92.

    This past weekend I painted them and they look great. They were green with black pipes but as I sanded I found yellow on the bottom of the seat and a kind of orange everywhere else. I hope I didn’t ruin them because I painted them red and white to match a glider I bought from La. Nursurey on Sat. I see they are/were one of your retailers. I got the glider for $100 so it must have been left over from last year. I would love to send you a pic of my chairs so you can tell me how old they are. They do not have drain holes but the tractor seat with the opening.

    I thought my uncle put on the armrest and stabilizers but when I read your blog I am really excited now that they may be original. I didn’t attempt to remove the armrest but taped and painted around them. On the floor piles I just painted them white.

    I could send a pic if you think you can indentify them. Where do I send the pic?

    Tom LeBlanc

  12. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for contacting us with your chair question. At this time I’m unfamiliar with any lawn chairs that used arms and floor contact points made from wood. It’s very interesting to think about but my suspicions are some craftsman has fashioned these parts in an effort to hold off damage to the paint. I would be very interested to see any pictures you’d like to share! It’s possible that after seeing them, I could give a more detailed account of what might be a very rare set of chairs or maybe just a clever way of dressing up some old chairs. At any rate, I’m anxious to see what these look like!!

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  13. I am refurbishing some old metal patio chairs that have flat spring steel slats (one end tied into actual springs, the other riveted to the frame). Do you have any suggestions on where I can obtain new slats? I’m running into large tooling cost issues as the companies I’ve found are geared toward the commercial side.

  14. Hi Ms. Weigand,

    Thanks for contacting us with you rework project. What you have are some of the more unique styled lawn chairs from back in the day. From your description, I’m not entirely certain if you mean the round style springs or the ones with bands that form the whole seat and back in a single series of straps. Either case they are way cool and well worth saving!! My first recommendation would be to try and source a “donor” chair. One that you can rob parts from. I know the prospect of this may be difficult but this is what most folks do on other antique items to restore to new. This way you have the exact replacement parts available for a perfect fit. If this doesn’t work, you can source the same material as either cold rolled or hot rolled steel. This stuff is sold in the big box stores as well as the better stocked hardware stores and most all of the farm and ranch stores such as Tractor Supply and Attwoods. The problem will be the material they have available may not be a direct fit or the needed size. You’ll likely have to compromise. Anyway, I recommend you look at what is available, choose COLD ROLLED material as the surface is much smoother than hot rolled and should compare to the old used on the chair. Next, you’ll need to locate someone to bend/form the raw material into the shape you need to replace. These folks are not simply listed in the yellow pages but what you are looking for is a metal smith, Black Smith or wrought iron worker. These people generally are accustomed to the irregualar request and more suited to special issues such as yours. If you can locate one of these folks, and architects and designers may have a name or two then visit with them before you run out and buy new materials. Of course searching online for these “smiths” is the fastest method, still the yellow pages might yield more local returns as not every craftsman has adopted to the internet.

    Good luck in your quest and please send me some pictures!!

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  15. Hello Ms. Crabtree,

    Sorry for the delay in responding. You may have stumped with this one! I have seen some chairs that reclined to different stops but these would not be what I call shell back style. They’re more of a woven material and some were of a metalic material but not solid. If you could please send some pictures, I might be able to give a better accounting.

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  16. I have a curled hog hair metal chair made by Harter Coorp-poration, Sturgis Michagan. How do I date it as it still has the state of Rhode Island seal as it must have been purchased for the Navy base 50+ years ago (my guess timation). I was going to sell it in our yard sale in three weeks and wanted to make sure it was not too valuable before selling for a small amount. The chair is red with metal thumb tacking in the back, and it has a rack underneath for holding books. Any information will be of value. Thanks a bunch
    Sincerely, Susan

  17. Hi Ms. Susan,

    Boy! I honestly don’t have any idea what you’ve got there but it sounds too cool! Please send me some pictures to tmc@torransmfgco.com and let me have a look. I’ll be able to guide you as best as I can but I’m dying to see this bad boy!1

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  18. I purchased a double, or metal love seat glider from an elderly lady for $30.00, but it does not have the bottom or frame part to connect to in order to glide back and forth, it does have the connector metal bars, two on each side. Where can i find a frame for my glider? Are there any available anywhere? Judging from my research, it looks like i got a very good deal, if i can find a frame. Thanks, hope you can help me.

  19. George, So glad you were able to get a vintage double glider. We can help you with a double glider frame if it is in the Bellaire or Thunderbird Style that we carry. We have a supply of frames that are 100% mechanically perfect with all parts and stainless steel hardware included. The frames have foam packing material stuck to the frame ends. This packing material residue removes easily by applying such household items as “WD-40” or “Contractors Solvent” and buffing the area with “Brasso” metal polish or common automotive chrome polish. We can give you a special price on these of $60 by calling our office at 903-665-6449.

  20. Hello,

    Thanks for asking about the new book! It’s going to be this summer if nothing else gets in the way. Basically, it is writen and almost all the pictures have been collected. However, I am still lacking a picture of an early Flanders chair with a stamped logo. They only did this for a very few years and I’m having problems finding one so I may just have to say to heck with it and take it to the publisher without it. But I know, just as soon as I do….one will turn up! Anyway, thanks again and please check back for an update in about 30 days.

    Louis Torrans

  21. Hi –

    My question is in response to something you put in an answer to a previous question regarding origin of particular types of metal lawn chairs. You said, “Now there were two other designs using flat spring material. One was a sort of hybrid where the upper frame or the arms was made from regular round tube but at just under the seat it married to flat spring stock. The ones I’ve seen did not have stamped metal seats and backs but instead used thin flat slats forming the back and seat. These are very comfortable chairs but also very hard to find!” I have two bouncers that have a continuous round tube that forms the frame, and then to form the seat and back, there are 7 metal slats that are about an inch or so wide. These match. Then, I have a loveseat that looks almost the same, except the seat part does not roll under as much as on the chairs. I am having an extremely difficult time finding examples that match mine on the internet, and specific information about them is next to impossible to find. Could you perhaps help me out with a bit of history on what I have? I know that they were originally owned by a local doctor here in Athens, GA, so that is presumably where they were bought.

    Thank you –
    Traci Snipes

  22. Hi,
    Thank you for hosting this site. My wife wanted a metal chair and I found three yesterday and bought them. I noticed right away they had the flat spring steel one piece frame and thought this might be a replacement for the original round stock. Upon reading your posts and the mfg stamp on the chair, they are apparently Schott or Shott King Chairs. They have about 3/8″ flat spring steel frames and also have added apparently stamped arm rests. The arm rests appear to be original. They were refurbished by the previous owner so I don’t know their original color but they are now red with a white frame and appear to be incredibly sturdy which I expect from the solid flat steel frame. Because you so kindly shared the information, I would be willing to take a photo and forward on to you if you need it. Otherwise thank you again for sharing the information. These must be rare as I only find one Google match and it goes to your blog.

  23. Hi Miss Traci,

    Yes they are very hard to find and I always tell folks that when they see one, they better buy it because they just aren’t out there in numbers. Like you, in our collection we have a set of chair made with what I call “Slats” for lack of any better term and attached to a conventional metal lawn chair style tube frame. We have friends with chairs that have a hybrid frame made with round material for the arms but then it transfers to flat spring material just under the front of the seat. These are quite old as their owner states they’ve been in family for at least as far back as WWII. And, it may be wrong to say the chairs I was talking about were stamped metal when what I was really meaning to imply was that they were solid and not made of straps or slats. They do not appear as what the more common stamped metal lawn chairs look like but instead have a more modest made metal seat.

    The only guidance I can give you about the chairs you have is that they may possibly have been made by Lloyd Manufacturing of Menominee, Michigan. However, the ones I’ve encountered had tube frames. BUT! Flanders Industries which later became Lloyd Flanders and is still in business today (making high end wicker and upholstered outdoor furniture) did make a small run in about 1992 of tube framed, metal slatted chairs for a company known as Hammacher Schlemmer. There was a chair, single glider and a side table and I think the only color option was black. The front cross member attached to angle iron material and there were only 6 slats of the same size. The older ones I’ve seen all seemed to have 7 slats and some used slats of different widths. Either they alternated the widths or the outside were made wider or other variations.

    My problem has always been that there were so many manufacturers making outdoor metal furniture in the late 40’s, 50’s and they may have only produced for one or two years and their distribution was most likely confined to their local area that it’s just too difficult to track them down. So, keep looking and maybe that missing chair will turn up and probably at the least expected moment?

    Thanks!
    Louis Torrans

  24. Hello!

    Thanks for joining in! Congratulations on scoring a triple! They usually are not found in a herd so to speak. If you found either the “Shott” or the “Balcrank” stamped logo then yes, you have an Alvin Shott chair. And, Mr. Shott named his spring steel framed chairs “King” chairs. The Shott King chairs sold for about double his normal tube frame pieces which accounts for the why you don’t see them too often question. They just cost so much more comparatively speaking that I don’t think he sold that many. Regular tube frame chairs from Shott routinely sold for about $4.00 to $5.00 but could be found on sale for $3.50 back in the late 1940’s. However, King chairs almost never were on sale for less than $6.00 to $6.50 and normal retail was as high as $8.00. So long as the seats and backs had at least some protection from the elements during their life then the frames themselves would be basically unaffected. But even when found in rough condition, nearly all the spring frame chairs can be easily rebuilt. Even if the seats and backs are rotted away, most times the frame will clean up nicely. To replace the seats and backs all that you need to do is locate a more common tube frame Shott chair in the same style and rob the seats and backs for the King chair since these were used for both frame styles.

    However, Shott did make two styles of seats and backs. One has a back that is a bit more oblong or almond in shape and the other is more round. And, he also fitted each style in both tube frame and King chairs. So, you may find a chair that appears like any other Shott chair but on second glance it’s just a little different looking in its shape. I think you’ll find the almond shaped chair will have the “Shott” logo while the more round version has the “Balcrank” stamped logo. Each were Shott chairs but required two separate sets of molds and I can only surmise Mr. Shott made the almond shape style later in his production history. It would have taken making brand new molds to change the logo and even back in the day, new molds were a rather costly undertaking.

    Good luck with your three chairs and please let me know how their refinishing turns out!

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  25. I recently purchased a 3 seater glider and 2 chairs for $50.I would like to know a little info about them and where I could get some replacement parts. The chairs and glider are made of metal but have an aluminum frame they also have a basketweave pattern. Any info you can give me would be appreciated.

  26. Hi Nick,

    Welcome to our blog!

    Score! $50 for three pieces of old lawn furniture is a great price. Depending on condition, just the gliders go for about $300 around my area and chairs can bring $50 each pretty easy so you did really well!

    I know the furniture you’re asking about but I’m afraid I can’t say exactly who made them. They could have been late production J.R. Bunting or they might be Atlanta Stove Works. If I had to take it on a bet I’d say they are Bunting products because I’m not so sure Atlanta Stove ever used aluminum in their furniture. Either way however, I’m pretty sure they are from the mid to late 1950’s to mid 1960’s. Both companies made very similar furniture but Bunting began before WWII and continued until about the mid 60’s. Atlanta Stove began in the early to mid 60’s and only lasted a few years until the early 70’s. There are a couple of good sources for information on the gliders and for parts. Try contacting http://www.vintageglider.com or http://www.localpatio.net. Please let them know we suggested them to you. Also, some powder coating shops have begun fabricating parts to retro fit onto the old gliders. However, the chairs are a different story. I’m afraid I don’t know of any sources for frames. And, ours are not compatible with these designs. But, good used chairs come along fairly often so maybe if you can’t find replacement frames at least you can locate some chairs to match the glider.

    Thanks!

    Louis Torrans

  27. thank you for the info. ill b looking for your book as I have several old chairs and such possibly wwii and newer. My family didn’t believe in gettn rid of things. Im a bit excited to see what my grandparents and aunts have left as im the collector for my family heirlooms.

    Thank you,
    Jeff in kc mo

  28. I have these metal chairs that I would like to figure out when about the were made. They are a set, Slight shell back they only have 3 humps, and not very pronounced, 1 piece round tube frame that is 3/4 in diameter. The back egdes of the chairs are not wrapped they are straight. One screw holding the back and the seat together with 4 metal tabs that go from the seat that goes though the back of the chair to hold that two pieces together. The back of the chair insets into the seat of the chair. The front of the seat of the chair inset for the frame. These chairs also have a drain holes that are in the shape of a V, 2 to the rear 1 to the front.
    Any information that you could give we would be wonderful. I do have picture. Is there any place to beable to find pictures and discriptions of the vintage chairs, with frame sizes and body discription. Thank you for your time.
    Harry

  29. Hello;
    I have recently purchashed two exact chairs. I am really not sure how to date these guys. So here is what I can tell you about them.
    They have a shell like design, there is only 3 humps on the top of the chair. With a one piece frame. There is one screw holding the back and the seat together with 4 metal tabsgoing from the seat into the back to hold them together, the back sits into the seat. The back edges of the chair have no wrap to them they are straight. The seat has V shaped drilled holes 2 toward the back of the chair 1 on front. The frame also insites at the seat of the chair where it if connected. The frame is made with 3/4in tube frame. This is all I really know about the chairs. I can not find a stamp on them to tell me who made them. So I was really hoping that you could help me with this.
    Thank you so much for you time.
    Harry

  30. Hi Louis, I was introduced to your web site by Amy of Mulberry Street vintage lawn furniture restoration in Charleston S.C. She forwarded me a link to your site in hopes of identifying some vintage furniture I have.
    After reading many of your posts, the chair appears to be one of the Alvin Schott King chairs but I an not positive.
    I also have a two seat glider that has what appears to be a tulip design in a small pot. It has been painted a hideous brown color, but red paint is visible underneath it. It is in poor shape, but the unusual design caught my eye and I wanted to buy it. I got both the glider and the chair I mentioned earlier for $65.00.
    Any historical information will be greatly appreciated.
    I will follow this email with photos of both.
    I would also like to know how I can purchase the new book you have written if it is available.
    Many Thanks!

  31. Hi Louis, I just have a simple question. I have a Harter Posture chair, green vinyl upholstery that is unusual in that it has a metal ring footstool on it’s legs. Can’t find anything quite like it, was wondering if you could help, as the model number is a bit scratched up.

  32. Very interesting forum that you have. I have three of the Alvin Schott chairs saved from the junk yard that are stamped with the Balcrank logo, have one piece tubular steel frames one inch (1″) in outside diameter, a round clam shell back with four humps and the molded seat “for sittin’. However, ours do not have the drain holes in the seats. Could you give me your opinion as to approx. when these chairs were manufactured. Our family had some that were similar back in the late 40s/early 50s but I do not know if they were purchased new or used. Thank you.

  33. I have a pair of metal patio chairs with a tag on the bottom of one that reads ARVIN INDUSTRIES Columbus Indiana. No drain holes and there are two pieces to the tubular section (a piece bolted to the handles on the back base)
    Should I keep them and refinish or are they of not much value?
    Thanks

  34. Hi Miss Jane,

    This is a very interesting question which means it’s a hard one. Like lots of questions with a complicated answer, it depends. I hate saying “it depends” and I hate hearing it but in this case it really does. So, if you’re planning to sell the chairs then no, I would not recommend refinishing them especially since the old logo decal is there. Anything “old” is more valuable in its original finish even it’s rusty. Even layer upon layer of old paint has high value as it’s the “chic” thing in lots of markets. But, old rusty paint sells as well or better than redone. Now, here’s where the “it depends” thing comes into play and you’re looking to keep them. If the chair has been refinished on the top side or the sides that show then maybe sanding them down to either the metal or a hard paint layer then maybe a new finish would make them more user friendly. No one I know likes sitting on chairs with flaking off paint. Of course you’d leave the logo as you found it. A far as value goes, almost all the vintage metal lawn chairs I’ve been seeing around have some sort of issues and may or may not be serviceable. They’ve been left outside from day one and rust has a foot hold on them, the frame has rotted out holes or the poor thing was used for target practice! Even these chairs bring between $25 to $40 down here in the South. Sadly, these chairs can’t be used anymore and spend the rest of their days decorating a garden. On the other side, chairs with strong frames, only enough rust to make them interesting and in their original paint or near to it are bringing in excess of $50 to $60 and in some markets earn over $100 with salesmanship thrown in. So to sum up. I would not refinish the chairs in order to sell them as this almost always hurts their value. If I was going to keep them and they can still be used by your “normal” sized friends/family then a new finish will help protect them to live out their usefulness longer. Just cover the decal to protect it until all the painting is done.

    A little bit about drain holes in the seats. I know I’ve used this has a marker for some old chairs, namely the early Ed Warmack products, I don’t wish to make it sound like drain holes were in all chairs because they weren’t. The Calumet chairs had them as lots of others but there are just as many unique designs that didn’t. It was a natural thought but apparently not everyone went there. So, if you run across what looks for all practical purposes to be a really vintage example and the seat doesn’t have drain holes, then look to the frame for a possible date. One piece frames were utilized in nearly all early metal lawn chairs from pre WW II to about 1950. It was the necessity to knock the chairs down for compact shipping that caused the old makers to change how they made their frames. Keep in mind, things were changing pretty fast after the War and economy was a major factor in the manufacturer’s minds. We don’t think about it much because we all know everything made in the 40s, 50s and 60s was made better than today or from the imports but that’s not always the case. So, things like drain holes and single unit frames are good tells but so are the complexity of the design. Complex designs went out with the end of WW II. Thanks!!

  35. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the question! $65 for a chair and glider was a good hit! Well done. A good used glider down here in Texas is a cool $150 and the chairs bring $35 pretty easy. Without actually seeing the designs I can’t say if you have a Shott chair or not. But you asked about the book and yes, it’s almost here and many of these questions are answered. We used lots of pictures!

    Now to your chairs. Shott made what he called a “King” chair which was his normal seats and backs but the frame was made from spring steel. These are the most comfortable all steel lawn chairs you’ll sit in. The spring steel frame is made from flat spring steel, about 1-1/2″ wide by about 3/16″ thick. They have the best action of any vintage lawn chair made. However, they were quite costly both then as well as now. In the day, they ran up to $7.50 and today they bring well over $100 easy, if and when you can find them. They didn’t sell too well due to their cost back in the day so this is why you don’t see them more often today. The glider I am at somewhat of a loss on. There was a maker, I’m pretty sure from the late 1930s to early 40s that stamped a tulip flower design into their chair backs. This is why today lots of people call steel lawn chairs or every shape and design a tulip chair. If they are painted brown then I’m betting the last time they were painted was the early 80’s. Brown was a hot color in those days. Thank goodness those days are gone! Thanks!

  36. Hi Karl,

    Alvin Shott either owned Balcrank or made his chairs there. I’m still trying to sort this out. Mr. Shott’s history is very illusive! I think Shott was involved in making what he called “All steel porch furniture” prior to WW II. I say this because he got into the game so quick after WW II ended it just makes it seem to me he had to have been making furniture before hand. To date a Shott chair, you have to look at the frame. If it’s a one piece tube frame then we’re safe in saying it is no later than about 1949. After ’49/’50 the three piece frame became the order of the day. If they have a rear cross member attached with bolts then they have to be very late 1940s up to the late ’50s to very early ’60s. Thanks!

  37. Hi Michael,

    This is a new on me. Can you please send some pictures and maybe I can help. However, these sound like some of the old chrome chairs we used to see in hotel lobbies and better barber shops. Thanks!

  38. Hi Harry,

    Nice description but I’m not at all sure who made this or when but I’ll give it my best shot. This most likely is one of the so called “Clamshell” designs. I’ve seen at least three but there are surely more. The most common is the Calumet chair but this design used 4 screws to mate the back to the seat. Judging by the complex design of the seat to back joint it is very likely to be pre WW II (for you really young kids out there, that’s World War number 2 as in Roman Numeral Two and not number eleven!). Things like this just weren’t done or at least not for very long after the War. Also, 3/4″ frames for some odd reason didn’t seem to transition into the Post War era. In my view as a researcher and as a manufacturer, your chair is rather complex. Complex metal lawn chairs did not continue or at least not for very long after the War. Complexity along with shortage of materials helped to eliminate many of the makers in the mid to late 1940s. By about 1947, there may have only been a hand full of manufactures remaining out of what I think were close to a dozen and most of these guys didn’t use stamps or decals so their legacy is lost to time. Thanks!

  39. Hello and thanks for the question! Yes, you have what is most likely is a Shott King chair made using flat spring steel for the frame. Shott made these about !947ish and they were his high end chairs. They used his same seat and backs as his tube frame chairs but the frame is what made the difference. This was not his design as several others had done this both before WW II and for a very short time after. It was a rather expensive product costing upwards of $8.00 when the tube frame variety was going for $3.50 on sale marked down from the normal $4.50 price. This is one reason they aren’t found too often today. They just didn’t sell due to the extra cost. But, they are the most comfortable metal lawn chairs ever made. You didn’t say what the cost was but I see them from time to time and they are always over $100. Thanks!

  40. Hi Miss Traci,

    I have seen maybe 3 or 4 designs like this and Lloyd Manufacturing made some like you’re describing. However, I’m thinking these might not be Lloyd unless the slats are held in place with a solid piece of round metal about 3/8″ to 7/16″ in diameter. The slats would be welded to the round bar. Others from manufactures I’m not sure of used rivets to attach the slats then moved to regular screw fasteners. Dating them is not terribly hard if they are in front of me but through an email I’m shooting a little blindly. These chair designs were made after WW II as well as before. The Lloyd chairs I’ve seen were late 1950s to early ’60s. But like most all the old chairs, I look at the frames. Chairs with one piece frames and in your case if the slats are riveted on we’re looking at either just before WW II or possibly as late as 1949. The ability to break down and ship flat packed became a very important consideration in the late ’40s as trucking/shipping became increasingly costlier and space needed to be conserved. Also, you say there are 7 slats used in the chairs. It is my opinion that slated chairs with 5 slats indicate later production so I’m going to say yours are an earlier design. Whether they are pre or post War is up for grabs but if I had to choose I’d say they are mid 1940s to about ’49. Thanks!

  41. My pair of chairs have holes drilled in the back of the seat and the seat is the “tractor” style w/o the back dip. The backs have rounded tops with long straight indentations on them. They also have rectangular rounded over Arm Rests attached to the flat frame via tabs that wrap around the bottom of the and then screwed into place. The frame is all flat except for a cross bar at the bottom back that is tubular then flattened to join with the other flat part of the frame and then bolted in place. My hubby refurbished them and I think they look wonderful. I am emailing you a zip file of my pictures: one BEFORE and several AFTERS. The do not look exactly like the “Beverly Hills” lawn chair. Could you tell me about mine? BTY: The white table is new from a local store.

  42. Hi Miss, Marry,

    From your pictures, the chairs you have are Alvin Shott “King” chairs. These are pretty hard to find and the reason behind this is they were upper end chairs from Shott’s normal products. He also made round tube chairs using the same seats and backs. To give you an idea of the difference in cost, the tube frame chairs could be found in the mid-1940’s for about $4.00 each where as the “King” chairs were easily $6.50 each. I think folks just didn’t see the need to pay more but they should have! The King chair’s frame is all spring steel and they are about the most comfortable steel lawn chairs you’ll ever find. Today more and more people understand these spring metal chairs are worth more and after my book comes out I’m betting nearly will be looking for King chairs!

    Thanks!

    Louis

  43. I have a 3 seat round shell type back porch glider 2chairs to match.the glider is in great condition I found it at a antique store was wondering what year they are.thank you!

  44. I have a 3seat porch glider with round backs almost like your bell air chairs 3 together the arms are round everything is rounded on it. Can you give me any information on it?i bought it at a antique store.i have a pic also.thank you

  45. Hi Miss Lisa,

    From the sounds of your very well put description, I think we can safely conclude you have a pretty rare Flanders triple glider model 301-054-95 from the mid-1990’s. This would have been just prior to their name being changed to Lloyd Flanders which happened a little latter in the 90’s. I say it’s rare because the three seat version was prone to frame failure when used by three full sized adults. Flanders just extended the cross members of their double glider and added an extra seat. The design proved to be less than popular and the front cross member could not handle the extra stress of three adults. And, I’m sure the swing arms bushings failed also. Instead of beefing up the glider it was simply discontinued after just a few seasons. I’ve only recently seen an example of one of these three seaters so they’re not very common from what I’ve found. If the chairs are the same style then this was most likely purchased as a set for something like $200 to $250 maybe even a little less. And yes, if you have pictures to share then I’d be very grateful to you!

    Thanks!

    Louis

  46. Do not even know how to describe my chairs. It does say Lloyd outdoor furniture and has a patent no. 2,234,677. The frame is 2 pieces. Hope that helps. I do have pic.’s of them.

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