Thrifty find: Slyter Rocking Swivelling Chair

There’s a consignment store type of place near me that’s closing down for good. I don’t know the reasons and perhaps the chap just wants to retire, put up his feet and read novels, but in any case it prompted me to go inside. I had walked past the shop a few times, but it was always on the way to somewhere, and since I am perpetually five minutes late everywhere (sorry, I am indeed one of those people) I never made it inside. I didn’t even realise it was a consignment shop until I ventured through the door. Right enough, it turned out to be a high end consignment store, in that they were obviously quite choosy and so the merchandise wasn’t cheap. But it was a 50%-off-the-sale-price-tags deal… and that always warrants a closer look.


There were lots of nice things in the shop, but I have a house full of stuff that already makes my husband sigh and shake his head in a blowfish kinda pursed-lipped way, so I only picked up a large red book that I thought interesting… it was a 1949 edition of Childcraft Vol 13: Art and Music. I’m a big children’s book fan, but I’ll leave that for another time. Suffice it to say I’m going through it with pleasure.


I was chatting to the shop owner as I paid for the book, and then I suddenly saw by the exit door… the CHAIR. “Oof” I said, “That’s lovely!”. Isn’t it just? said the owner. It’s a 50s vintage rocker and swiveller from Tacoma. It was patented here actually. And the fabric is original too.”

20160105_171109 (2)Of course, the fabric was what had attracted me in the first place (it’s a bugger to take photos of). Mid-green, with gold flecks and a substantial fringe at the base, this was a serious fabric that had/has only a tiny bit of wear. Even that is just where the rocker hit the wall, so I kind of like that – used but loved, judging by the great condition. It’s fairly short and squat and I very much liked the 50s curved ease of the arms.

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20160105_170938 (2)I really, really don’t need another chair in my place, but it was… $225 down from $299… and then the 50%! Yep, for $112 this little piece of local history could be mine. When you convert it to pounds (which I inevitably do when trying to justify a purchase) it sounds even less. Only 76 of our British pounds for a local relic!! What’s a girl to do?


I bought it.

20160105_171029 (2)

I wish the glitter parts photographed better, but you get the idea


It’s currently sitting in my son’s nursery as it doesn’t fit properly in our living room. We’re renting right now though, so I know the perfect spot is in my future!


2016-01-04 (2)I did a little digging and I must admit I couldn’t find too much about the company online (it might have been taken over by a larger company but I couldn’t find anything official), but I did find the patent that the shop owner was referring to. The chair was made by George W. Slyter Sons Inc. of Tacoma. From what I understand it was the addition of the swivel function to the rocker that was the patented part, but hey, I’m no patent or furniture expert.


Picture from Tacoma Public Library online

There was also this picture of the Slyter factory from 1955, which shows large bolts of upholstery materials in the back right of the picture. These were cut on the long table to their left and then sewn on the sewing machines in the foreground of the picture. They look pretty old-school to me (treadles I think?), but perhaps that was the norm still in the 50s.

Washington PArloe 2

Picture from Tacoma Public Library online

I also found one other piece of info. I found a 1927 picture of some display rooms from the “Washington Parlor Furniture Company” of Tacoma, which reportedly went out of business in 1933 during the Depression and was owned by none other than… George Slyter. I can’t swear it’s the same guy, but chances are they’re at least related. Seemingly, the company was “known for its overstuffed furniture”, which doesn’t sounds too complimentary. As of 1927, Tacoma was apparently the second largest location in the US for furniture making, which makes sense with all the wood that was easily accessible, I guess.

WAshington PArlor 1

Picture from Tacoma Public Library online

Last but not least, is a 1927 picture of the employees of the furniture company congregated outside their building. I like it a lot, especially the guy halfway up the telegraph pole. It must have been really quite exciting to get your picture taken back then and I love the chaps lying around all casual-like in the foreground. They seem to be laughing at themselves a little, so maybe they were being a bit cheeky, heh heh.

Anyway, it was an interesting little diversion, started by a nice piece of upholstery fabric. I hope you found it mildly interesting too. Bye for now!


3 thoughts on “Thrifty find: Slyter Rocking Swivelling Chair

  1. Hello,

    I have two Roto-Rockers myself (purchased new by my grandparents when they moved near Tacoma in 1959–1960 and thought you might enjoy what I found on Yahoo! Answers as much as I did:

    For starters, here’s a link to that patent.
    “Jan. 20, 1953 SLYTER ETAL 2,525,933 COMBINATION ROCKING AND SWIVELING CHAIR Filed Sept. 21, 1949”

    Invented by Louis Slyter and T.Maule,of Tacoma, WA.

    Found no record in the USPTO database of the “registered trademark” as “ROTO (and) ROCK” or SLYTER or any furniture trademarks for any company in Tacoma. Sorry.

    The George W. Slyter & Sons Inc. chair manufacturer was located at 3110 S. Cedar St in the 1950s and 60s, according to a caption in the archive of the Tacoma Public Library. It also says “Louis J. Slyter was president of the company.”

    At a meeting of the WA and OR Furniture Mfr Assn, George W Slyter represented the Washington Parlor Furniture Company of Tacoma, in the 1904 journal of American Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer, v.70 no. 26, NY Oct. 8, 1904.

    Fire was discovered in a row of brick factories in Troy NY on the morning of Aug 31, 1903, according to the Pittston Gazette. One of the occupants damaged was Geo. W. Slyter Furniture mfr at 419 River Street.

    In other historical notes, “The Slyter Chairs won the league championship in the Angeles Furniture Women’s Major League”, according to the Port Angeles Evening News, April 24, 1969.

    And, for good measure, a certain George W. Slyter was reported facing $1,000 bail to appear before the grand jury under charge for assault in the first degree for shooting one George W. Burnham (in the recent Luzerne affair), as mentioned in the Troy Daily Times of September 16, 1891, afternoon edition, not to mention the Schuylerville Standard a week later.

    [found in]

    This was not the end of the news for George, however. He was granted a divorce from his wife, as a sequel to the shooting affair at Luzerne, last August (1891), according to the Schuylerville Standard of December 9, 1891.

    It gets better:
    Mr Burnham was recently nominated for county clerk by the Prohibitionists. Mr. Burnham was, however, caught inside a closet of Mr. Slyter’s home, where Burnham and Mrs Slyter were apparently “overly friendly” after having been to the local fair. Mrs Slyter is 28 and Mr Burnham is 35. Mr. Slyter ordered him to leave, fetched a revolver after Burnham refused, fired one warning shot, then plugged old Burnham in the right side with a second shot, below the shoulder-blade and the bullet exited 6 inches away. Medical and legal officials were summoned, Mr. Slyter surrendered without incident and Mr Burnham begged the sheriff not to make the arrest. Mr Burnham stated to the District Attorney, who had arrived from Glens Falls, that he only got what he deserved and would not appear against Slyter unless compelled. “The sympathy of the entire community is with Slyer.” Burnham was expected to recover from his wounds. The Plattsburg-Sentinel, September 4, 1891.

    Enjoy your rocker.
    beSee-n-u · 3 years ago

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow wow wow! That is sooo interesting! Thank you for providing that info – I’m going to take a look through it and will reply in more detail but this is great. The detail about the court case is amazing – who would have thought there would be such a controversial story behind it? I love this about social history! 😀


  2. My father was L. R. Slyter, Jr. His father was part owner with his brother George of Slyter furniture. I inherited 2 of my Dad’s chairs that were made by the Slyter furniture in Tacoma. I am quite sure it was bought out by Magnuson furniture.


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