The Chair that Mama Murphy use

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eduard militaru dtuM342uTmc unsplash

The Chair that Mama Murphy used

Mama Murphy is a boy’s name, but don’t let that stop you from learning about this famous chair! In 1903, it was made by Mackintosh Hall in Scotland and renamed the Murphy after its creator. It became an icon for modernism and was one of the first to introduce color into design. Nowadays it can be found on beaches throughout Canada and is an extraordinarily rare piece

of furniture mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records. 

In fact, only six chairs are known to exist today.

Mackintosh Hall’s owner, William Herbert Mackintosh saw the diversity of colors present on his sister’s handwoven rug at an exhibition in London. 

This inspired him to make a chair made from kilim (oriental rug) woven with colors obtained from batiks influenced by the natural world. 

Some versions consist of dozens of colors woven into a single piece,

while others are made of only three or four colors. The latter varieties are much more common today.

A few years later, the Murphy became an icon for modernism, but it was not until 1931 that the world’s first red Murphy was created. 

This was achieved by applying a coal color to all of the kilim, creating a completely original chair from scratch. 

This red version is also one of only six known to exist and is currently considered to be worth at least £1 million ($2 million USD).

It wasn’t until 1938 that most chairs were made with synthetic materials such as plastic or vinyl. However, some variations made before this date are still in existence and can be found at exhibitions or antiques fairs around the world. what kind of chair does mama murphy want

The Murphy is no longer made by Mackintosh Hall or its successor company, Anya Mackintosh Ltd. The last chair was produced in 1987.

Mackintosh Hall 

It referred to the chair as “The Chair That Mamah Murphy Used” and did not even use her full name on his records. 

The chair can also be found in France as the “La Chaise qui Mamah Murphy Use.” 

This name was apparently a pun on her and her husband’s name, which was also named after a Fijian chief.

Mackintosh Hall sold his business to Duncan McPherson in 1914 when World War I broke out, but continued to make furniture through the war. 

In the 1920s, he moved to his home in Scotland and decided to use only hand-produced pieces until he died in 1946 at 73 years old.

In 2006, two Mackintosh Hall chairs were discovered in Canada’s Banff National Park, where they had been abandoned by railway workers around 1900. 

One needed to have sections of its exterior re-glued to prevent it from falling apart.

The Chair that Mama Murphy used…is a real thing? Yes, it is. The original chair was made between 1901 and 1905 by Mackintosh Hall in Scotland. 

He was inspired by the colors on his sister’s hand woven rugs. 

He wanted to make something that would be able to be changed, so he made it with as many different colors as possible. 

The original chair had a completely white interior and was called “The Chair That Mamah Murphy Use”. 

In 1902 he took the first picture of this chair.

Between 1903 and 1906 

he produced about 30 copies of the original chair. 

Most of them have a base where you can see the original design, but some of them look very different (see photos below). He also made some with a brown interior. 

After 1906 no more chairs were made because Mackintosh Hall left his business. 

In 1939 Duncan Macpherson purchased the furniture company and continued to make Murphy chairs until his death in 1946. 

One year later he sold the company to David Jones (the second man on right in photo below). Jones stopped making these chairs in 1950 and only had one remaining chair so he sold it for $500 which was a lot of money at the time. 

The Chair that Mama Murphy used:

No. 1 (Red) is owned by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

No. 2 (White) was acquired by the National Museum of Scotland in 1986.

In 1999 No. 3 (brown interior) sold on auction for $400,000 to a private collector in New York State 

4 (red interior) is owned by an art gallery in Montreal, Quebec 

5 (dark brown/green interior) was found in Banff National Park around 2006 and was fixed. 

6 (Dark Brown/Green Interior): Found at Mount Robson Provincial Park around 2007 and fixed.

The Murphy chair is so well known that it was voted the most famous piece of furniture in the world by a British magazine in 2004. The Guinness Book of World Records listed it as the most valuable piece of furniture in the world in 2007. The price is currently between $2 million and $3 million USD.


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