A Chair for Every Budget

Gendron sales catalogues emphasized the company’s expertise in wheel-building and it seems they did not look far beyond the wheels. Most of their product lines had three wheels with the large drive wheels at the front and a small stabilizer wheel at the back.

The basic Gendron chair cost $19 in 1913. It had a wood seat and metal tires. Putting a rubber tread on the tires and springs on the chair cost extra. So did brakes, push rims, and a push bar. The ad said the chair came in a lovely oak veneer, but was it comfortable? Did it go places?

"Reclining rolling chair" illustrated in Gendron Trade Catalogue, circa 1913-1914.

Basic Chair, Gendron Trade catalogue, ca. 1913. CSTMC Library, special collection.

Gendron’s top line, the “Ideal Chair.” started at $32 in 1914. It had drive wheels at the back and stabilizer wheels at the front but not so the chair could be tipped back to mount a step. The design allowed users to sit at a desk or table—or show their refinement as they played the piano. Gendron pictured well-dressed people sitting sedately in their homes for he was selling respectable domesticity to ladies and gentlemen with limited walking capacity. Can you imagine wheelies?

Catalogue illustrations of Gendron's "Ideal rolling chair" in use by people working at a desk, eating dinner and playing the piano.

“Ideal Chair.” Gendron Trade catalogue, ca. 1913. CSTMC Library, special collection.

Gendron also marketed outdoor tricycles and folding chairs but who was their market for outside travel? The base cost for the tricycle was $92.50, a hefty sum in 1914. No wonder the company pictured well-dressed people using their wheels. These aids were for people with some weakness which restricted mobility -- but not for those with a condition which prevented any independent movement. Where could those people go?

Catalogue page showing a well-dressed young man using the "Ideal tricycle". Catalogue page showing folding chair in use

 "Ideal tricycle," and “Folding Chair.” Gendron Trade catalogue circa 1913. CSTMC Library, special collection.