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The History of the Rocking Chair

Chair Runners: Use them for more than just rocking chairs

The rocking chair holds a special place in the culture of our country. There is nothing quite as relaxing as the rhythmic motion of a rocking chair, especially with the sounds of leaves rustling in a gentle breeze on a lazy summer evening.

While the rocking chair is a distinctly American passion, the forerunner of the rocking chair originated much earlier. The addition of rollers on chairs and rocking horses predate the rocking chair we know today. Rocking cradles were in use in Europe before the Middle Ages, while children’s rocking horses were popularized during the Victorian era.

Rocking Chairs
Shaker Rocking Chair

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the actual invention of the rocking chair in 1710, although other sources claim it was invented by farmers or by early cabinetmakers. The word rocking chair didn’t appear in the Oxford English Dictionary until 1787. The American Shakers, well-known for their simple, functional furniture, perfected the design and created some of the best rockers of the time.

Outdoor style rocking chairs first appeared in England in 1725. The Windsor rocker featured a hood-shaped back with birdcage-like spindles. The Boston rocker was a variation of the Windsor rocker and appeared in New England in 1840 and was the first machine, mass-produced rocking chair. The Bentwood rocker originated in Germany in 1860.

Brentwood Rocking Chair
Sofa Rocker

Today, rocking slats are put on many types of chairs from plush chairs and recliners, to upholstered rockers, to more rustic Adirondack-style chairs. Other uses for rocking slats include sofas, porch swings, and toys, including the iconic rocking horse.

There have been a number of research studies that outline the therapeutic benefits of rocking including improved balance, relaxation, relief of arthritis pain, faster healing after surgery or birth, and ease of depression and anxiety. They are commonly used in birth centers, nurseries, nursing homes, and mental facilities.

Whether calming a fussy baby or just melting away the stress of the day, Van Dyke's has the rocking chair components you need to create your own rocking masterpiece.

Check out our Pinterest page to see our "Rocker Ideas" board and much, much more!

Rocking Chair Therapy