Once upon a time…
On October 7th in 1870 Wilhelm Bartelmann opened up his business as first basket maker in Rostock. It was his 25th birthday and according to justice at that time the minimum age to open up and run your own business. Because of his work for the ducal palais he was entitled "court basket maker" a little later.
One day in spring in 1882 a certain Elfriede von Maltzahn entered his workshop in the "Lange Strasse" in Rostock. She asked him for the production of a "seating accommodation for the beach as well as to protect her against too much sun and wind", because she suffered from rheumatism but didn`t want to miss the stay at the beach. After all, the fresh sea air with the stimulating climate is widely considered to be health supporting.
As an entrepeneur Mr. Bartelmann didn`t consider long and constructed the first beach chair at the Baltic coast out of wicker and cane - a single seater, which simply was named "beach chair" in the beginning and affectionately was named "upstanding laundry basket" by deriders.
Presumably Elfriede von Maltzahn had many enviers, when she settled on the beach from Warnemuende in 1882. Further single seaters were produced by Bartelmann to meet arising demand. Already in 1883 a model for 2 persons was made and his wife Elisabeth Bartelmann founded the world's first renting for beach chairs in Warnemuende, close to the lighthouse. In the "Allgemeinen Rostocker Anzeiger" they advertised: "Badegästen empfiehlt Strandstühle als Schutz gegen Sonne und Wind und giebt solche auch in Miethe. W. Bartelmann".
Since filing a patent was failed and the demand constantly increased, soon beach chairs were made and advanced by other manufacturers, too. Thus new designs with footrests, arm rests and site boards arose and in 1897 his former apprentice Johann Falk designed a model with an adjustable backrest.
Already around 1900 beach chairs were widely accepted in all German coastal cities. Old business documents account for Bartelmann`s supply of the whole Baltic coast from Schleswig-Holstein across Mecklenburg and Pommern to East Prussia. Also several Northsea-bound cities do not lack in this list. Therefore it does not surprise that beach chairs were made in great amounts and Bartelmann´s workshop established the "beach chair industry". However, he himself declined to be referred to as "fabricant", he always described himself as workman. The beach chair workshop in the "Lange Straße" in Rostock was totally destroyed during the bombing raids in 1942 and so the business extinguished.
Up to now beach chairs are distinguished between the rather angular and sharp-edged form of the North Sea and the roundish and swung form of the Baltic Sea.
The "roofed wicker beach chair" enjoys a growing popularity for 125 years now. It isn't only found at the beach; long ago it also has conquered the inland and sporadically is met in the whole world, too. Despite of the growing demand world-wide it is still bound by hand, like in former times. Perhaps this is the reason for early dreams when dwelling in a beach chair. After all, it is the symbol for summer, sun, beach and the sea.