How To Know If Morris Chair Is An Original? All You Need To Know

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
11 min read

If you’re interested in antiques, you need to know how to tell if a Morris chair is authentic. Having this ability will be useful in the long run.

First manufactured in England in 1866, the Morris chair is regarded as the ancestor of all other reclining chairs. Since it has since been copied, if you’re paying a high amount for the antique brand, you’ll want to make sure the Morris chair you’re buying is an original.

It was during the early 1900s that the Morris chair became a household name thanks to its mission-style design, which is still produced today by firms and even amateur woodworkers. Furniture upholstery, curtains, and even fashion accessories can now be made from the same woodblock-printed wallpaper patterns that were revolutionary in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Morris chairs have high backs and high armrests, unlike lounge chairs. Upholstered cushions or fabric woven into the frame are also common on early models. Later variants contain replaceable cushions, allowing the chair to be customized to meet the user’s preferences in terms of color schemes or personal preferences.

What Is A Morris Chair?

Recliners like the Morris Chair were invented by Morris himself in the mid-1800s (more on its history below). There are some differences between them:

  • Cushions for both the seat and the back.
  • High-profile hardwood armrests and sides.
  • Pegs are inserted into holes or notches on the back of the chair to “recline” the chair.

Morris Chairs have a low-tech feature that must be manually adjusted to achieve the correct angle. In the absence of any levers, springs, or sensors, the system is completely frictionless. There are no moving parts to break or wear out, other than the easily replaced pegs.

Evolution of the Morris Chair - Design for the Arts & Crafts House | Arts & Crafts Homes Online

According to advertisements from the past, a “minimum amount of healthy exercise” was required for recliners by getting out of the chair and moving around the back to adjust. If the chair’s original design drew in customers, it’s hard to say whether or not its return to its roots is a welcome development. You still have to manually adjust your chair in accordance with your personal preferences.

The chair is constructed of solid wood, frequently quarter sawn oak, and dressed in warm stains to compliment a homey living area. There are three ways to bend the arms: bowed, flat and bending. Solid panels or slatted sides give the furniture a classic Mission-style appearance. A woven fabric or leather covering can be used to upholster the thick cushions.

History Of Morris Chair

William Morris based the design of the Morris chair on a chair made by an English carpenter named Ephraim Colman in the mid-1860s. Morris and Co. created Victorian-style chairs based on this concept, although the design was not universally embraced.

Stickley’s Morris chairs were inspired by William Morris, who was a big fan of Gustav’s work back in the early 1900s. In addition to the well-known flat, bending, and bow arms, he experimented with other designs.

Carpenters greatly imitated Stickley’s designs in his days, and his brother Leopold created a chair that combined two elements from Stickley’s two plans. Gustav’s designs have subtle angles, which makes his chairs more appealing and refined. His Morris chairs are a bit of a challenge to create because of this feature.

Morris chair designs

Carpenters greatly imitated Stickley’s designs in his days, and his brother Leopold created a chair that combined two elements from Stickley’s two plans. Gustav’s designs have subtle angles, which makes his chairs more appealing and refined. His Morris chairs are a bit of a challenge to create because of this feature.

Carpenters greatly emulated Stickley’s designs in his days, and his brother Leopold built a chair that blended two components from Stickley’s two models. Gustav’s designs include slight angles, which makes his chairs more appealing and elegant. In order to build this form of Morris chairs, the builder must pay close attention to this particular detail.

His brother Leopold built a chair that integrated two features from Stickley’s two blueprints. Carpenters greatly mimicked Stickley’s designs throughout his days. Gustav’s designs include slight angles, which makes his chairs more appealing and elegant. In order to build this form of Morris chairs, the builder must pay close attention to this particular detail.


Even his brother Leopold built a chair that incorporated parts of two of the designs of Stickley, which was popular among carpenters at the time. Accentuate the elegance of Gustav’s designs by focusing on the tiny angles in his designs. In order to build this form of Morris chairs, the builder must pay close attention to this particular aspect.

All Morris chair designs must have padded seats. When taking images, some people choose to remove them in order to give you, the viewer, a better perspective on the chair’s design.

Benefits Of Having A Morris Chair

1. Eases motion

Recliner chairs have a reputation for helping folks who use them to get around more easily. When seated, lying down, or standing up, the pivoting back allows for a smoother transition. While you’re watching your favorite show, or if you just want to get up and go anywhere in your house, this can be a convenient way to do it.

2. No more back pains

Even if a person remains seated, they are likely to experience back pain. You may be experiencing back pain because you’ve been sitting in the same position for too long. Morris chairs allow you to change the position of your backrest if you start to feel pain in your back.

Morris Chair | Historic New England

3. Improves circulation

When you stand up from a seated position, your blood rushes to your feet and legs, causing a dizzy sensation. Morris chairs, like many reclining chairs, allow you to progressively adjust your backrest in order to lay down comfortably. When you lie down, your blood has a much easier time traveling to different parts of your body, resulting in greater circulation.

4. Relieves stress

After a long day of work, sitting on a Morris chair is a welcome respite. As you recline, your spine is able to rest from all the bending you’ve been doing. You can also relax your muscles and decrease stress in your body by resting with your legs supported.

How Much Are Morris Chairs?

Morris chairs are currently generally created in factories, which speeds up manufacturing, although they are still extremely expensive, especially if they are made in factories. It’s a simple chair with no complicated levers or buttons. While comfort and design are important aspects of these chairs, you’re also paying for their materials because they’re often constructed from hardwoods.

From $500 to $700, you can get a Morris-style reclining chair made from a variety of woods and styles. If you want a chair made specifically for you, expect to pay extra. Because you can pass it on to future generations, this is an excellent investment.

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

Learn as much as you can about your Morris-style chair to determine whether or not it is an original made by the William Morris Company. It’s a good idea to check out websites such as the William Morris Society or the Arts and Crafts Movement.

You can use these factors to pinpoint the origin of your Morris-style chair’s manufacturer:


With a robust construction and a Victorian inspiration, Morris chairs are made of dark oak. Armrests and a reclining back with ornamental spindles are padded.

Wool tapestry covers the seat cushions of Morris chairs from the early 1900s. However, newer prototypes had heavier and more plain arms with wide paddle-shaped slats to support the back and arms, which were typically developed by Morris himself.

Unique structure

A close examination of the chair’s frame might reveal whether or not it is an antique Morris chair. The drawer’s bottom, sides, and back all fall under this category.

When a piece of wood shows traces of nicks or cuts, it is likely to have been created by hand, which suggests it was cut by a plane, spokeshave, or drawknife. When a piece is cut with straight markings, it indicates that it was made with a circular saw, which didn’t come into use until around 1860.

Engraved names

Gustav Stickley’s Morris-style chair, known as the Stickley Morris chair, was made in a variety of styles, including the bow arm, flat arm, and bending arm. The designs of Stickley were widely copied during the day. Chairs with the Stickley Morris style decal or paper label can be traced back to the manufacturer. For original Morris chairs, this is not the case, as the furniture maker’s name is carved into the wood.


Morris chairs are extremely difficult to come by and can be rather expensive. Depending on the age, condition, design, and opinion of an expert, some Stickley Morris chairs can fetch as much as $17,000 each.

As an emblem of the Arts and Crafts movement because to its simple lines and superb craftsmanship, Morris chairs became widely popular.

Original J.M. Young large Morris chair with slats to the floor and thru-tenons. | Morris chair, Craftsman furniture, Leather wood chair

Construction And Design Of The Morris Chair

It is possible to change the backs of Morris chairs to suit any design, thanks to their adjustable backs. All of the cushions on Morris chairs make them exceptionally cozy. The Morris chair design was changed many times in the early twentieth century, yet none of them were free of weapons.

White oak is the most frequent wood used for American Morris chairs, however other woods can be used. Leather and textile patterns were offered in a variety of colors and patterns for the chair cushions. There are a few exceptions in England, where Morris chairs are virtually always upholstered in cloth.

Morris chairs’ reclining mechanisms lack the high-tech levers and sensors found in the increasingly popular La-Z Boy recliners. When the back hits the seat bottom, the Morris chair’s back is supported from behind. To recline, just insert pegs into holes in the arms or use a bar to connect the back to the arms.


Even Stickley chairs from the 19th century are incredibly hard to come by. Despite this, Morris chairs reissued in the Mission or Arts and Crafts style are still available.

After a long day of work, the Morris chair is a welcome sight for the weary and beckons you to have a seat and unwind. The Morris chair has been replicated and is currently being made because of its beauty and comfort.

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 might be difficult, but if done well, it’s well worth the effort.

When it comes to Morris chairs, it’s important to know how to tell the difference between a reproduction and an original. However, the ease of use outweighs the extra cost.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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