Who are we?
We didn’t invent the age old craft of barbering, but we pay homage to this time-honored profession with each and every haircut and shave we perform. Our dedication to our clients and their needs is the cornerstone of Benoah Barbers. From the moment you walk into our shop, you’ll understand why we’re passionate about barbering. From our original, American-made Koken barber chairs dating back more than 100 years, our classic British Chesterfield armchairs to contemporary, signed Banksy lithographs and our private stock of more than a dozen fine American bourbons you will be well cared for before, during and after your haircuts, shaves and beard work.
A Short History of Koken Barber Chairs
The barber chair has been a fixture in barbershops for more than a century and a half, with engravings from as far back as the Civil War era showing designs not entirely unlike those still in use today. However, the barber chair truly came to prominence around the turn of the century, when a number of patented inventions by an enterprising young man named Ernest Koken led to the basic chair design that is still in use today. Koken barber chairs dominated the first half of the century, and they remain popular today both as collectible antiques and as modern, contemporary chairs.
The Wyatt Earp
Famed American lawman Wyatt Earp was just a boy when this emblematic Koken barber chair was manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri, some 195 miles south of Earp’s hometown of Monmouth, Illinois.
Legend has it that Earp took his weekly shave in this chair in a barbershop in the Sonoran Desert town of Vidal, California, where he lived until a year before his death in 1929.
Manufactured at the turn of the 20th century, our Wyatt Earp Chair is steeped in history and awaits you at Benoah Barbers.
Rich tan leather, steel ornaments and glistening chrome make our Mariachi chair a stunning focal point at Benoah Barbers.
Restored to its original splendor, the Mariachi spent much of the 20th century south of the border in Monterrey, Mexico.
Manufactured at the turn of the 20th century, our Mariachi Chair is steeped in history and awaits you at Benoah Barbers.
Forged white steel, sparkling chrome and authentic cowhide make the Longhorn our most spectacular chair.
The Texas Longhorn is a breed of cattle known for its characteristic horns, which can extend to over 2.1 m (6.9 ft) tip to tip. They are descendants of the first cattle in the New World, brought by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish colonists, Texas Longhorns are known for their diverse coloring, and can be any color or mix of colors, but dark red and white color mixes are the most dominant.
Manufactured at the turn of the 20th century, our Longhorn Chair is steeped in history and awaits you at Benoah Barbers.
The Early Years
Born in Germany and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Ernest Koken was a creative and industrious young man. Following his father’s untimely death, young Ernest left school and set about earning a living for his family. He found success first as an artist and manufacturer, creating hand-decorated fine china shaving mugs, mirrors, razors, strops, clippers and other supplies and selling them to local barber shops. Soon, his thoughts turned to his greatest passion: engineering.
Ernest began creating prototype designs in his spare time, eventually devising a clever reclining chair that was more comfortable and convenient for barber and customer alike. His biggest breakthroughs, however, still lay ahead.
The Koken Hydraulic Barber Chair
Armed with a patent for his innovative reclining chair and funded by increasing demand for his design, Koken was motivated to continue refining and improving the barber chair.
In 1900, he struck upon what would prove to be his greatest idea: a hydraulically-operated chair fitted with a joystick-style lever that allowed barbers to quickly and easily control all of the chair’s movements. Koken also patented these innovations and combined them to create the Koken Hydraulic Barber Chair, which quickly became a runaway success with barber shops across the United States and beyond.
An Expanding Empire
Though Ernest Koken was stricken with heart failure and passed away in 1909, Koken Barber’s Supply Company went on to become the largest barber supply company in the United States under the guidance of his son, Walter. The company continued to refine and expand its product line, eventually earning patents for designs related to beauty parlor chairs, chiropodists’ chairs and more. Walter Koken even uncovered plans for an internal combustion engine that his father had designed in an attempt to compete with Henry Ford and his engine, though the plans ultimately never came to fruition.
A Lasting Legacy
Koken Barber’s Supply Company remained a premier name in the United States until the 1950s, when the emergence of a number of lower-priced competitors and a slowly declining barber industry forced the company into bankruptcy. The early 1960s and the popular trend toward longer hair and more creative hairstyles further impacted the once vibrant company. By 1970, the Koken Barber’s Supply Company – along with many of its patents – had been purchased by Japan’s Takara Belmont Company and incorporated into its own designs.
Well over a century after Ernest Koken’s first breakthrough designs, Koken remains an influential and respected name in the barbering world. Takara Belmont continues to produce legacy chairs bearing the Koken name, and antique chairs have become highly sought after on the collectible market. Ernest Koken was inducted into the Barber Hall of Fame in 1975, and his initial designs and patents still form the basis of many barber chairs produced to this day.