A captain's chair can have many definitions, but traditionally it is referred to as a chair that has a vertical support serving as a back rest and horizontal supports serving as arm rests as well. The traditional model is often associated with sea-themed furniture, but this association is more dependent on the woodworking than actual function of the chair.
In most cases, a captain's chair is a wooden chair. It is often found used in settings with desks and in dining rooms, and it is also a popular choice in restaurants. In order to fit the name, it must have both arm rests and the back support. Many dining room sets come with one chair that has arm rests and several other chairs that do not. Often, in a traditional design, the main horizontal line at the top of the chair serving as the peak of arm rest and back rest are the same height.
In more recent times, a captain's chair has come to identify other chairs that have back supports and arm rests that do not meet the definition of having more than two vertical supports. For example, some use this name to refer to chairs with fabric stretched between two supports for both the seat and back rest, as long as it also has arm rests. These may be better referred to as director's chairs, however.
The confusion over the term centers around the fact there is no clear definition of this term, so different marketers or manufacturers may use it for a wide variety of styles. Adding further to the ambiguity of the definition is that it is also the name of a piece of exercise equipment meant to work abdominal areas.
The cost of a captain's chair can vary widely, with the cost mainly depending on the quality of the chair, the type of wood or other material used in its creation, and other factors, such as the type of cushioning, if any. Antique chairs can be found from time to time.
Due to its relatively simple construction, this design has enjoyed widespread use for centuries. The vertical supports make it a very sturdy chair. In many cases, especially in old chairs, there may be no cushioning or upholstery at all.