Emil J. Paidar Antique Barber Chairs and Why Collectors Love Them

Antique barber chairs have found a slot for themselves among the top few items traded by antique dealers. They are valued for the superb craftsmanship and gorgeous materials that have gone into their making and collectors today are ready to shell out hundreds of dollars to own one of them. We find out why.

A Valuable Piece of Collectors’ Furniture

antique barber chairs
An antique Emil J Paidar barber chair for kids with a horse head.

This hidden gem of a collector’s item earns high value in any auction sale today due to a number of reasons. The chairs reflect the skill of the craftsmen of yesteryears who made no compromises for quality whatsoever. So, you have sturdy wood materials like mahogany, oak, elm and rosewood being used for the body. Astounding etched designs; a hand-crafted work of art grace the iron-plated hand rests and chrome-plated footrests with finest materials used for the making of seat covers.

Another distinct feature that collectors look for and which adds value to the chair is their one of a kind elevating and reclining systems and how well they function today. Most often, the systems were gas-piston operated. As per eBay’s sold listings, the two most sought after antique barber chairs besides Emil J Paidar are the likes of Koken and Kochs.

Reliving the History of Emil J Paidar Antique Barber Chairs

The earliest manufacturers of the barber chairs in the United States before the coming on scene of Emil J Paidar were the Archer Company, Eugene Berninghaus and Theo A. Kochs. The swivel feature in the barber’s chair was brought about by the latter two manufacturers. However, the laurel of introducing hydraulic features to the chair’s design rests with Koken Barber’s Supply Company. Emil J. Paidar Company, which was  based in Chicago, and came into this business since the early years of 1900, can be considered as the contemporary competitor of Koken.

As a market leader, Emil J. Paidar designs were benchmarks of quality and many times were copied by competitors prevailing at that time. The company maintained its leading position till the late fifties. However, around late sixties, the downfall began with the incoming of another strong competitor in the form of Takara Belmont. He bought out the struggling Koken and grabbed a major market share for barber chairs, leaving Emil J Paidar with a very small slice of the erstwhile market.

Eventually the Paidar Company went bankrupt but the design and technology seen in the modern barber chairs is a proof to its legacy which still lives on.

Parts Comprising Emil J Paidar Barber Antique Barber Chairs

Each part of the Emil J Paidar barber chair is a tribute to the craftsmanship of the artisan involved in its manufacture. Beautiful designs, striking colors of the upholstery coupled with comfort and convenience marked each piece of Emil J Paidar’s antique barber chairs. The various parts of the chair can be explained elaborately which explain why they are popular even today.

Headrest: The headrest had a vital role to play during massage sessions. The components of an antique Paidar headrest comprised of a cast iron body with brass bracket and leather upholstery. The part was removable with the activation of a push button system.

Backrest: The backrest was made in conjunction with the seat and the headrest. Cast iron was used for the frame while the cushions were leather bound. A metal rod called the towel bar was attached to the rear side.

Arm Rest: The arm rest was normally made of chrome with superb designs etched on to it. The correct mix-n-match of color of the base, upholstery and arm-rest accentuated the barber chair. Sometimes ash-trays were attached to it.

Seat: The color of the seat went hand in hand with that of the backrest. The components of the seat were similar to the above ones. The seat cushion which was covered with leather normally gave firm support to the person seated on it.

Hydraulic Lift Mechanism: A trend setting feature of the barber chairs was the hydraulic lift system which enabled the chair to slide up and down. There were various subparts which together made up this complex apparatus such as piston assembly, filter, relief valve, plunger, cylinder and hydraulic cover.

Calf rest, Footrest: The calf rest was in sync with the above mentioned component parts of the barber chair. Its upholstery was also made of leather. However, only pre-decided sizes fitted the relevant units. The footrest was the area to display the manufacturer’s brand name.
Base: The base was the lowermost part of the barber chair which held it firmly onto the ground. The material generally used to make the base was porcelain and there was a metal ring of chrome that covered the line connecting the upper and the bottom section.

How to Lay your Hands on An Emil J Paidar Barber Chair

Emil J Paidar antique barber chairs acts as an eye-catching item of furniture whilst being displayed at your home or in the barber’s salon. Though considered to be comparatively rare, you can obtain them at the following sources if you happen to be lucky:

  • Local antique shops
  • Online auction sites like eBay
  • Craiglist
  • Classified ads in local newspapers
  • Estate sales
  • Sales held at auction houses
  • Other online antique dealer houses

If you plan to invest in an antique chair, then it is essential to research the source for genuineness. In spite of the popularity of online selling sites today, it is better to procure the services of a well-known and knowledgeable auction house or a professional antique dealer. If the dealer is a member of reputable national associations of art and antique dealers, then it is all the more better. Anyway, whatever be the source, there is no substitute for research in order to judge the authenticity of the source.

These antique barber chairs would sell anywhere from $400 for an “as-is” condition to more than $1,000 – $2,000 for a fully restored and functional one in active collectors markets, a solid proof that the Emil J Paidar brand has quality that is worthy of a collector’s investment. Although sometimes you can tell the age of the chair from the serial number on the tag on the base or side, or near the reservoir cap or under the seat, the majority of the time, these tags are not there anymore as they have fallen off or are removed when work is done.

How to Care for Your Vintage Barber Chair

Following are some ways that you should take to care for your vintage Emil J Paidar barber chair, or for that matter, any brand of vintage barber chairs.

  • Use a lint-free, soft cloth to dust the chair.
  • Top grade beeswax to be used for waxing the wooden parts.
  • Avoid exposing the chair to bright light or keeping it in rooms exposed to sudden humidity or temperature changes.
  • Do not drag the chair if it is to be moved. Always lift it.

If you own an antique chair of Koken or Emil J Paidar, be aware that you are endowed with a small fortune and do take all steps necessary to preserve it.


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About Staci Kersh

Vintage furniture lover, especially loves to piece together antique beauties such as gas pumps or sewing machines and blend them seamlessly into your home. Loves to talk, walk the dog and hang around garage sales all the time. Drop her a mail at hello@vxotic.com if you want to connect.

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