Monday, December 22, 2014

An 1800s Physician's Chair is....Here at City Liqs?

If you wander around our warehouses, you will notice that some things may stick out as being out of the ordinary. Every so often you'll stumble onto something like this 1800s physician's chair and wonder... what is that doing here and what is the story behind it?

Well we may not be able to tell you why it's here. It seems that things just seem to appear here sometimes, but we can definitely tell you the story behind it.

(Photo of our chair for sale at City Liquidators)

Surgical chairs, like this one, date anywhere from around 1870 to 1920s. Operating tables of early- and mid-1800s were just simple wooden planks, most likely with restraints for the chest and limbs. These were needed because there wasn't any anesthesia for surgeries. So, in a terrifying way, this caution was more for the comfort of the surgeon than the patient. (

(Wooden Operating Table c. 1830. Photo courtesy of

 As the types of surgeries increased and anesthesia was brought into use, operating tables became more convertible. They started to serve as not only operating tables, but examining chairs as well. As a result, more space was saved and function became more concealed to look like parlor furniture. It turns out that people were uncomfortable with mounting a table, so doctors would sit them in a chair and leisurely tell them to lay back as the nurses helped adjust it. This was much more relaxing for the patient and put them at ease. (

(Photo courtesy of

For all practical purposes [the chair] is really no better than a common table; but any patient would sit in the chair without nervous agitation, while some become greatly alarmed at being requested to mount a table. The patient once seated, is told that the chair is only a couch, and she is requested to lean back and extend it horizontally by her own weight, with perhaps a little assistance from the nurse who stands at the back of the chair. I am almost afraid to write these little things, but I do it only for my younger brethren, who many need to learn the importance of educating their patients to feel that everything is being done that delicacy and propriety require on an occasion so trying to a sensitive nature.

J. Marion Sims, Clinical notes on uterine surgery. 1st Am. ed. New York, 1873, 22.

Once medicine hit the 20th century, doctors were able to cure more diseases and fix more injuries, so there was no need to dress up exam rooms anymore. There was less to fear. On top of that, aseptic protocol in surgery ruled out the use of upholstered furniture and wood furniture in favor of austere exam tables, and sterile, enamel-on-metal, and glass furniture. (

(Photo courtesy of

If this subject has caught your interest, the chair is for sale for $699 here at City Liquidators in Portland, Oregon. 

(Our chair, once again, for sale at City Liquidators)

It would be great for a tattoo parlor, movie set, theater play, or even a piece in an eclectic home collection. It is all cast iron and hand-carved wood and is from the late 1800s. If you're interested in this rare piece of history, call our main store dept at 503.238.4477 and speak to us today!


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