Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games

Ice-Cream Chairs

January 16, 2014




Or "American Ice-Cream Parlor" chairs, to be more accurate. Ice-Cream parlours and Soda Fountains were very much part of the American Way of Life. During the 19th century attempts were made to replicate- and bottle- the natural mineral waters found at fashionable spas. Coca-Cola is a good example. Originally invented by John Pemberton as a patent medicine cure, it was subsequently rebranded as a enjoyable drink in its own right. Coca-Cola was good for you!  Soda Fountains became popular in chemists, pharmacies and ice-cream parlours throughout the United States, and especially so when, with Prohibition, the sale of alcohol was banned in 1919.



Have a look at the rather blurry photograph below of an American Ice-Cream parlour, which, I think, dates to about 1910. The chairs are similar to the rather stylish chairs we bought recently from a shop in the Lillie Road, and which I've just photographed in our tiny, rain-drenched, grey-skied London Garden (above). These are often referred to as "Ice-Cream" chairs, and I can see why. I think, however, it much more likely that our examples are French café chairs from the 1950's or 60's. They evoke fantasies of Paris in the Spring. I'm going to re-paint them an off-white (I'm keen to avoid the F & B sludge green at all costs), but one half of me actually rather likes they way they are rusting elegantly away.



The photograph of the soda fountain below, dates from the 1920's: 



On a similar theme is the Antelope Chair, designed by Ernest Race for the Festival of Britain café in 1951. Until recently, the V & A were selling a reproduction, with a vivid yellow seat (below). An example can be seen at the Frederick Parker Chair Collection in the East End of London.





Peak of Chic. It’s very 50’s in feel isn’t it? Colour of garden furniture is an interesting point- here in England F & B grey/green is very popular and has been done to death- every gastropub in the land is painted in that colour. I like the idea of a return to white. Grey/White rather than Cream, I think.

Posted by Luke Honey on January 17, 2014

What a jaunty-looking chair. It reminds me of the good old days. I think that you’re spot on about the color- it needs to be off-white.

Posted by The Peak of Chic on January 16, 2014

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