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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Murphy, Inc. Owensboro, KY rocker


Sewing Rocker
Sewing Rocker  

Sewing Rocker label
Sewing Rocker label  
Would like to know more about my sewing rocker; year of manufacture, wood, value, etc.  It has the original label on the underside of the seat which reads MURPHY (Incorporated) Owensboro, KY  119.  The overall height is 34" with the top of the seat being 15" from the floor.  The widest part of the seat at the front is 16 3/8".  The top of the back is 14 1/4" wide and the bottom of the back narrows to 12 7/8".  The rockers are 28".  Any information will be greatly appreciated.

Karen - The low armless rocker, called a sewing rocker or a nursing rocker, became popular in the late 19th century as a chair devoted entirely to feminine tasks. It was included as a standard part of many late 19th century bedroom suites. This custom continued through the Depression era of the 1930s.

In 1877 Canadian chair maker Michael J. Murphy moved his business into the Detroit factory building recently vacated by the Detroit Chair Factory that had been established in 1864. The company had a major expansion in 1885 and employed over 800 workers in a four story factory. It was incorporated as Murphy Chair Co in 1899.

When furniture production began to move south after the turn of the century Murphy picked Owensboro, KY as the prime place to have a new factory. In 1917 he acquired a wagon factory building in Owensboro and operated it a branch of the Detroit company until 1921. In 1921 the Detroit company was closed and the Owensboro plant was reincorporated as the new Murphy Chair Co. By 1935 the company had built more than 10,000,000 chairs in its factories so Murphy chairs are not rare.

Murphy Chair Co, always family owned and operated, closed in 1954.

The seat of your chair appears to be quarter sawn oak but I cannot tell about the rest of the chair. The chair is Queen Anne style with cabriole legs and a vase shaped splat. It appears to be from the 1930s. In today's market it would sell at auction in the $50-$75 range.

Thanks for writing.

Fred Taylor

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Fred Taylor


I will attempt to answer questions about American antique furniture, including construction details, style, period, manufacturers, care, repair and storage. I do not have any background in appliances, musical instruments, sewing machines, trunks, lighting, clocks or children's and baby furniture and will not respond to questions about those items.


I ran an antique furniture restoration business for twenty years. I am a nationally syndicated columnist on the subject of antique furniture for such publications as Antique Week and New England Antiques Journal. I have produced one video on the subject of furniture identification and my book "HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE" is now available.I have also published articles in Antique Trader, Chicago Art Deco Society, Northeast Magazine, Victorian Decorating and Lifestyles, Professional Refinishing, Antiques and Art Around Florida and Antique Shoppe. You can visit my website at

BSBA Finance, University of Florida, MBA Finance, University of Florida

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