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Bentwood rocking chairs were the invention of Michael Thonet, a German born in 1796. He opened his first workshop in an Austrian town in 1819, however it wasn’t until 1830 that he started to produce the bent steamed wood and stunningly sold 50 million chairs in one year. Later, in 1853, he opened the Gebrueder Thonet factory in Vienna Austria and finally in 1856, he received a patent for the bentwood furniture process.
His sons joined the business and Mr. Thonet passed in 1871, but by 1900, the Thonet Family had over production factories all over Europe. The patent for the process expired in 1869 and many imitations flooded the market. However, it is nice to know that most original Thonet chairs are labeled and marked.