How To Know If Morris Chair Is An Original: 4 Unique Factors

If you are an antique collector, it is important to learn how to know if Morris chair is an original. This is a skill that would prove to be helpful in the long run.

Known as the father of all reclining chairs, the Morris chair was first produced in England in 1866 by the William Morris Company. It has since been copied, so you have to know if the Morris chair is an original if you’re paying a hefty price for the antique brand.

The mission-style design of the Morris chair became famous for homes during the early 1900s, and are still being manufactured by companies and even amateur woodworkers today due to their clean lines that fit almost any décor. During the 1800s, the woodblock printed wallpaper designs were considered revolutionary for their time and can still be used for furniture upholstery, curtains, and even fashion accessories today.

Unlike lounge chairs, Morris chairs feature high backs and high armrests. Early models also have upholstered cushions or fabric sewn in. Still, later models have removable cushions, adding more flexibility for the chair as the cushions can be changed to suit different tastes or color schemes.


How To Identify Whether Or Not Your Morris Chair Is An Original

If you want to know whether or not your Morris-style chair is an original that the William Morris Company manufactures, learn as much about it as you can. Websites such as the William Morris Society and the Arts and Crafts Movement are helpful resources.

Here are some factors that can help you determine the manufacturer of your Morris-style chair:



Original Morris chairs are made of dark stained oak, built in a sturdy, clean-lined work with a Victorian influence. There are cushioned armrests and a reclining back with decorative spindles.

Early Morris chairs have cushions sewn into the chair seat and upholstered in wool tapestry. Morris himself often designed the patterns for the chairs, but newer designs were heavier and more straightforward, with wide paddle-shaped arms and square slats to support the back and arms.


Unique structure

To tell if your Morris chair is an antique, take a look carefully at the body of the chair. This includes the bottom, sides, and back of the drawer.

If the wood shows signs of nicks or cuts, it was probably handmade, which means it was cut with a plane, spokeshave, or drawknife. Straight saw marks indicate an old piece, while circular or arc-shaped marks indicate that it was cut by a circular saw, which was not in use until about 1860.


Engraved names

The Stickley Morris-style chair, built by Gustav Stickley, was manufactured in several variations, the best known to be the bow arm, the flat arm, and the bent arm. Stickley’s designs were widely imitated in the day. Original Stickley Morris style chairs have his decal or paper label, identifying the manufacturer of the chair. This is not the case for original Morris chairs, as they usually have engraved names of the furniture maker.



Morris chairs are very hard to find, and they can cost a lot. Some Stickley Morris chairs can even go as high as $17,000 apiece, with factors like age, condition, design, and expert evaluation being factored in.

Original Morris chairs were highly decorative and often bulky, but they became popular as an icon of the Arts and Crafts movement, thanks to its simple lines and advanced craftsmanship.


Construction And Design Of The Morris Chair

Morris chairs have adjustable backs, a construction detail that is adaptable to any design. Morris chairs are simply comfortable in this way because they are all cushioned. In the early 20th century, this Morris chair design has been adapted in different variations, but none of them were unarmed.

American Morris chairs can be made of any commonly-used wood in the day, though it is most often rendered in white oak. Chair cushions were available in different colors of leather and textile patterns. However, in England, Morris chairs are almost exclusively made with fabric cushions.

The reclining mechanism of Morris chairs is low-tech, without the complex levers or sensors of the now-popular La-Z Boy recliners. The Morris chair’s back is hinged where it meets the seat bottom, and it is supported from behind. The back then meets the arms, either by a bar or by pegs inserted into holes in the arms, thus making the recline simple.



Original 19th century Morris chairs, even those made by Stickley, are extremely rare. Although, reproduction Morris chairs still conform to the Mission or Arts and Crafts style.

The Morris chair brings comfort to tired individuals after a day’s work, and it invites you to sit down and relax. Because of its style and comfort, the Morris chair has been copied and still manufactured.

In fact, woodworkers today have the Morris chair on their “bucket list” projects, as a good-quality Morris chair can be a good investment and is an excellent testament to a woodworker’s skills. Making a Morris chair is challenging but is worth the effort if done right.

While the appearance of the upholstery has evolved and is now different from the original, the overall structure remains constant. Morris-style chairs remain available today.

However, if you have knowledge on how to know if Morris chair is an original and want to spend for a real antique one, be prepared to pay a hefty price for it. However, the comfort is definitely worth it.

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