Archie and Edith's chairs from ''All in the Family'' originally cost eight dollars at a thrift store

The most famous chairs in the world were quite a deal.

Sony Pictures Television

Like any good piece of television history, you can find Archie and Edith's chairs propped up in the Smithsonian for generations and generations of All in the Family fans to enjoy. The induction of the Bunker's chairs was more than just a tip of the hat to series creator Norman Lear, it was an acknowledgment of the impact that a series like All in the Family had on the world and a celebration of the series as a whole.

But as priceless as those chairs may be today, they certainly started out much less expensive than you might think. In a LIFE retrospective of All in the Family, crew members were able to take a walk down memory lane to the beginnings of the series. One of the main goals of Norman Lears was to use All in the Family to portray a typical American family, warts and all. This was a mission that extended past the cast of characters and episodes, but to the show's environment as well, which took on a life of its own.

While we know it's just a film set, the Bunker's home looks worn and lived in, as though the family has actually been living there for the past decades. As one of the primary locations in nearly every episode, it was important that in order to bring the Bunker family to life and make them into a family that viewers could recognize, they would need to make their home appear realistic. Rita Riggs, who assisted in developing the Bunker's home, a mainstay setting of the series, said of the set, "The concept was to open everybody's family album and recognize some of those characters."

The article also reveals that those two chairs placed in the Bunker's family room weren't specifically created for the series. Rather, they were purchased by the crew from a thrift shop for about eight dollars in total. This means that if logic tracks, before those chairs were in the Smithsonian and even before they were in the Bunker home, those chairs were a well-loved secondhand staple of some other random family before they were donated, which is wild to think about.

Those chairs were a mainstay of the series, and arguably one of the most recognizable set pieces on television. Archie's chair was a place to collapse into after a long day of work, to call Mike a meathead from, or to have a rarely-seen heartfelt conversation with Edith. They're just as important as any character in the series, and whether they're in a museum or on set, we can see how well-loved they've been.

Watch All in the Family on MeTV!

Two full hours!

Sundays at 8 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

7 Comments

Angelcakechick39 2 months ago
IN THE PAST IN THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM IN WASHDC
KawiVulc 2 months ago
Beaten to it but, yeah, wonder if the folks who donated them ever saw the show & recognized them. Today they'd be tracked down & made the flavor of the day.
Rick KawiVulc 2 months ago
I doubt the two chairs came from the same household originally.
KJExpress 2 months ago
I wonder if the original owner(s) ever recognized those chairs? 🤔
Runeshaper 2 months ago
That is a really cool fact. Thanks for sharing, MeTV!
cperrynaples Runeshaper 2 months ago
Well, here's a fun fact: After the original chairs were donated to the Smithsonian, it cost several thousand dollars to make duplicates!
Runeshaper cperrynaples 2 months ago
Oh wow! Thanks for sharing that info!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?