Koken Barber Chair - A blast From The Past!
In the late 1800s Earnest Koken invented the Koken barber chair. It was the first of its kind to utilize hydraulics, combining the technology of the day with excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail. Its swiveling base, footrest, and cushioned headrest made it the unchallenged leader for comfort and function. The original chair is made from a base of luxurious hardwood with quilted leather cushions in rich shades. Even the practical features of the Koken barber chair resonate with elegance: the metal footrest and handles are beautifully engraved. It is easy to see why the style and grace of this chair make it the natural symbol of the American barber industry.
Koken barber chairs are a rare item and highly valuable in the antique market. At least one has been shown in a museum as a piece of art. Another is infamous for being the spot where Albert Anastasia, a 1940s mob boss and gang leader, was gunned down.
The Koken barber chair has most definitely seen its share of history since it was introduced to the barber world. To track down one of your own, one need only search through Ebay or contact an antiques broker. However, it will cost you to own one of these beautiful chairs: working miniatures go for upwards of fifty thousand dollars, while chairs from the turn of the century can fetch a modest ten or fifteen thousand. More recent chairs can range from one to five thousand depending on year and quality. However, few chairs are on the market and collectors are reluctant to surrender such an unusual piece of barber history.
A Koken barber chair is a treasured antique and one cannot underestimate its historical, and fiscal, worth. Other artifacts of Koken's early success also fetch a high price in the auction house, such as the token he introduced for a shave and a haircut discount. Engraved on one side with the discount and the other with "Gracey's Barber Shop", these coins are a testament to Earnest Koken's ingenuity.
Though the young German entrepreneur's descendents are no longer at the helm - Koken Manufacturing Co. still operates out of St. Louis. It is now under the name "Takara Belmont" and has branched out to sell a variety of professional and personal furnishings, but is still a supplier of quality Koken barber chairs. The new chairs have a sophisticated space-age design, but still employ Earnest's principles of comfort and innovative functionality. In certain models a motorized system replaces the original hydraulic one, and movement is synchronized in several planes.
Cast aluminum bodies replace wooden frames to offer premier durability, but the new models continue the tradition of luxurious leather cushioning. The newest make, the Regalo II boasts back massages and heated footrests as new capabilities to add to the never-ending list of Koken innovations. However, throughout decades of turmoil and change the name Koken remains synonymous with quality.
The Koken barber chair has transformed drastically throughout its lifespan, but Earnest Koken's basic principles of quality and unbeatable style stay strong.