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The History of Beach Chairs

The earliest record of a beach chair dates back to 1882 in Germany, where a basket maker named Wilhelm Bartelmann invented the strandkorb, a wicker chair specially designed for the beach. He did so at the request of a woman whose doctor had advised her that the sea air would be good for her, but that she should not sit on the sand due to another medical condition. Bartelmann’s canopied wicker chair solved the woman’s problem and also allowed other beachgoers to enjoy the seaside while remaining protected from the sun, sand, and wind. (It's worth noting that he also manufactured many two-seater chairs and even rented them out to beachgoers.) In the United States, the earliest patent that specifically mentions a chair for the beach is Helen Petrie’s 1892 “Seaside Seat,” which was specifically designed for “use in camps, on yachts, at beaches, and in similar places.” Petrie’s design was open, compact, and easily moveable — not unlike the beach chairs of today. In fact, while materials and manufacturing techniques have improved, not much has changed in basic beach chair design since the late 1800s. Still, innovations have been made. For example, after inventor Michael Deming’s wife Karen was in an accident and became a quadriplegic, he created the All-Terrain Wheelchair for use on the beach. (He was awarded a patent for his invention in 1997). In 1985, James Hamilton invented his Combination Backpack/Beach Chair for easy portability. And in 2001, Shannon Nation was awarded a patent for her Pregnancy Beach Chair, a special lounger that allowed pregant women to lay on their stomachs. Today, beach chairs continue to be a massively popular item and are available in all kinds of configurations, colors, sizes (including kid's models!), and materials.

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