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Barbers Chair #2011-0020

Single pedestal swivel barbers chair on circular chrome and white enamel base with pivoting footrest, white enamelled arms, green leather upholstered circular seat, square backrest with rounded top and padded headrest; chromed metal footrest.


This barbers chair was used by male and female politicians from around 1960 in various locations at Provisional Parliament House. The chair was moved to Australian Parliament House in 1988 and remained in service until the early 1990s. Interviews with hairdresser Lizzie Scott highlight the intimacy of working at Provisional Parliament House and the everyday interactions between staff and politicians.

The barbers chair was manufactured by Koken Barber Supply Co. in St Louis, Missouri in the United States of America. The company was a large supplier of barbers’ equipment from the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Koken barbers chairs were considered ‘state-of-the art’, being the first to incorporate a hydraulic lifting mechanism to enable them to be easily raised and lowered. The technology was labour-saving for barbers and became part of the barber shop experience for customers.

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This barbers chair was used by the Provisional Parliament House barber and hairdresser. Although not a remarkable example of type, the chair represents the day to day needs of the people who worked in Provisional Parliament House. The chair is significant in illustrating the life and work of the parliamentary support staff and is associated with many well-known political personalities who used the Parliament House barber and hairdresser to keep themselves well groomed. In 1978 Lizzie Scott was employed as hairdresser and used this chair, working from L176 in the southwest wing of the building. There is evidence of perming solution and hair spray on the leather of the chair, while traces of talcum powder remain in the grooves of the footrest.

  • Barbers Chair used at Provisional Parliament House.Barbers Chair used at Provisional Parliament House. —
  • Detail of footrest of barbers chair.Detail of footrest of barbers chair. —


Width 730mm
Height 1230mm
Depth 1100mm
Medium Chromed metal; enamelled metal; leather; hydraulic fluid in base column
Creator’s name Koken Barber Supply Co.
Impression -
Date created Unknown