The first patent for a true “exercising machine” was issued on March 13, 1844 to Oliver Halsted of New York; Specification of Letters Patent No. 3,480, “Machine For Producing Exercise”.
This chair’s significance lies in it’s being the earliest documented and manufactured piece of American exercising equipment. An extreme rarity, we know of only this example. The chair is stamped twice on the underside with “Halsted’s Patent New York”. Period advertisements in the New York Herald and New York Evening Post ran sporadically for this chair in 1844 and 1845. No advertisements or information post 1845 can be located and sales of the exercising chairs must have been extremely limited.
The “ purpose for which it is designed, a substitute for carriage, horse and many other forms of gymnastic exercise” …"an admirable substitute for horseback exercise , which its motion most resembles. It has however, the additional advantage of giving active exercise to the arms and chest.” There are also numerous recommendations from physicians on its benefits to dyspeptics, primarily those with irritable dispositions or digestive issues, as well.
Moving the levers slightly raises and lowers the seat, exercising primarily the arms and chest, body weight providing the resistance.