Koken Barber Chairs
In the 1890’s, Ernest Koken had already began working on his hydraulic lift for koken barber chairs. Ernest, a German citizen, was already a reputable individual since 1874 (at age 19). But back then, he worked for a factory selling custom china shaving mugs. When he was just a young boy, Ernest would look at prototype designs as a pastime activity. He was an engineer by heart. It’s no wonder that in 1881, he patented his reclining chair design. A decade later (in 1892), he patented his hydraulic chair. If you notice the modern barber chairs these days, most of them are hydraulically powered. This is all thanks to Ernest Koken.
When Ernest died in 1907 due to heart failure, his son, Walter went on to run Koken Barber’s Supply Company based in St. Louis. Not long after, the company had become the leading barber supply business in the United States. They didn’t just sell barber chairs. They provided just about any barber supply as well, including lather brushes, razors, scissors, mirror cases, tool cases and many more. The building still exists today, bounded by Ohio, Sidney and Victor Streets, and alley of Texas Avenue. The National Register of Historic Places in St. Louis, Missouri lists the location as a historic