And who is Thonet, you may ask? Well, it's a guy's name first of all. Michael Thonet was German, born in 1796. He was a furniture maker and designer running a regular business but then he started to play around with the idea of bending the wood. Starting with veneer strips and then working with solid rods of beechwood, Thonet created his trademark curved furniture shapes starting in 1830s. That was cool enough but then he was also a pretty good business man, jumping on the factory mass production bandwagon of the time. By the 1850s his designs had won awards at the London and Paris World's Fairs and he was on his way. One of his most famous designs is chair Number 14, from 1859, which was a kit if parts.
The designs were not only for chairs but also for other items such as coat racks (as you know), tables, and settees.
|Otto Wagner for Thonet|
Each design was numbered and each pieces was numbered as well. On vintage pieces you can usually either see a stamp of Thonet, or a Thonet label.