Have a seat.

Category: What on Earth!?

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous. -Mies van der Rohe

You know that What on Earth isn't finished yet, right? That there are still things left in this house that I have not yet photographed or researched or even examined?

Like this chair.

chairbasement2.jpg

A chair that is so cool looking, it is like a work of art to me. It is solid oak and it moves to conform to the curve of your body as you sit in it, hunched over to type on a computer or typewriter. The design of it is fascinating and I have not yet figured out its clever hinges and ball bearings.

chairbasement3.jpg

It was made by the Remington Rand Company, which is a company beloved by geeks the world over. Why you ask? Well, Remington Rand made quite a few snazzy looking typewriters in the early days, along with electric shavers, adding machines, library and office equipment. However, it was also the manufacturer of the UNIVAC I, the first commercial computer made in the United States (1951). Eventually, Remington Rand was acquired a few times until it evolved into today's Unisys.

chairbasement4.jpg

This is where six degrees of separation creeps in.

In 1951, the Remington Rand company headquarters was the Rock Ledge Estate in Rowayton, Connecticut. A beautiful Tudor-revival mansion with amazing woodwork and lovely steel casement windows. A building that I had been in many, many times and knew pretty well. Because I used to work for the company which owned it during the last few decades, Hewitt Associates, and traveled there between 1994 and 2000 for my work. I remember at least one afternoon tucked away in an office there, gazing out on the Long Island Sound and dreaming up the user requirements for electronic performance support systems.

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(Click on the image of Rock Ledge if you want to get a better look. Beautiful, isn't it?)

Unfortunately, Hewitt sold Rock Ledge in 2003 which makes me shudder to think what might have happened to that gorgeous mansion. I don't even like to think about it.

Ahem. Back to our chair.

That's all I know about it. I know that Remington Rand made wood furniture, probably in the late 20's through early 40's (but I am guessing at the dates). Very little of it has turned up in my online searches. An oak print case at auction. A teacher's desk on eBay. A wooden card file.

Lots of history. One weird connection to my past. No more information offered by Google this evening as I drowsily tap the keys on my MacBook, the sleek great grandchild of the Univac. Off to bed to dream of Tudor mansions by the sea.


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Comments

It's a small world, isn't it? And that's a gorgeous chair.

The little tag in the picture (the red paper one) looks just like the inventory tags that they used to use at the University of Arkansas before we switched to barcodes...Wonder if that's the production number or if it was perhaps used in their own offices?

Small world is right. I retired from Unisys Corp. in 1989 after 35 yrs. with Burroughs & then Unisys after Burroughs bought out Sperry Rand & became Unisys. Today, Hewitt & assoc. handles our benefit program.

We have almost the identical chair. We got it off ebay, and it arrived broken. I glued it back together, but it's not perfect. Ours is a different brand though.

Wow - we had a very similar chair, and that exact desk at our house in Toledo. My mother-in-law's boyfriend had a side job doing janitorial work for a school, and when they put those out as garbage, he snagged them for us. I'll email you a pic.

I am sitting on the same chair right now! It does not have any metal tags or stickers, but the front knob is circularly engraved with 'Johnson Chair Co.' We've had this chair for 30+ years, it was purchased by DH's parents with a rolltop desk that has a tagged number plate on the top corner...we believe they came from a business at one time. We live in a north Chicago suburb, so the chairs may have originated in the same factory.

The chair has always been remarkably comfortable especially the moving back support.

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