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Why do the classic barber chairs cost an arm and a leg?

You go down the street to your local barbershop and high five (air five these days) your regular barber and jump into his classic barber chair. What you may not realize is that it's a $3,000 Koken chair that's cushioning your behind. These antiques are the pride of a barbershop and most of the time a main score of your shop's legitimacy. A six chair barbershop can rack up a bill of $12,000 - $15,000! That's assuming you get a decent price. Many collectors of these fine butt holders have listed their prized possessions for sale way above the usual price because of the demand and shortage in the market. Why all the fuss?! Lets get into it...

In the 1800's barber chairs were made of wood, porcelain and stainless steel but not just your average wood, the finest most durable woods like Oak, Mahogany or Maple for instance. That and the hand tooling design work is what made them desirable. What differentiates a barber chair from a stylist chair is the ability to recline for shaves. The mechanics involved aren't too fancy but they must work continually over thousands of reclines without fail for a variety of weights. This durability is arguably the biggest difference from modern barber chairs which are made of much lesser quality materials to increase profit margins, tisk tisk. If you want to see a testable example of the quality of materials just look at the weight. Your average vintage barber chair weighs about 300 lbs if you can believe it! Some of the main companies that shaped the industry are the aforementioned Koken, Belmont, Koch (maybe the oldest company, established in 1871) and Paidar but there are many more and they all stand the test of time. Koken in particular can fetch a price between $500 and $6,000 depending on condition, age and model.

So in short, they don't make 'em like they used to!


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