Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Vintage Furniture Questions

Can you help me identify and value my vintage Heywood-Wakefield furniture?

You're in luck! We have an entire page dedicated just to this question at Identifying Heywood-Wakefield Vintage Furniture

Theater, School and Auditorium Seating

The old Heywood-Wakefield company manufactured several lines of auditorium and theater seating, much of which seems to be still in use. We are frequently contacted by schools and other organizations looking to buy more of what they have, or to obtain replacement parts, or even to sell theater seating. We do not manufacture this type of product, and we are not aware of any company which manufactures completely interchangeable parts for old Heywood-Wakefield contract seating. However current auditorium or theater seating companies may have something that is close, or perhaps they can custom-make what is needed. The AMERICAN FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS’ ASSOCIATION in High Point, NC, (919) 884-5000, should be able to direct interested parties to such manufacturers, and the CHICAGO MERCHANDISE MART’s yearly NEOCON show, perhaps the country’s largest and most complete exhibition of contract and commercial furniture, featuresAmerican, European and Japanese manufacturers. Interested parties should call or visit the Mart at Mart Plaza, Chicago IL 60654, (312) 527-7600.
There are also several trade publications such as Wood and Wood Products Magazine and Custom Woodworking Business Magazine (address for both: P. O. Box 1421, Lincolnshire, IL 600691421) which sometimes feature advertisements of companies that make seating or components for seating. They maintain a website called Industrial Strength Woodworking (http://www.iswonline.com) which appears to be growing all the time. Industrial Strength Woodworking contains the online version of W&WP’s “Red Book”, which is a huge source guide used by woodworking professionals to source suppliers. You may find a company that can help you there. There is also the WoodWeb(http://www.woodweb.com), and searching Google for “theater seat manufacturers” returns at least three good sites.
Another idea is to try to locate former Heywood-Wakefield factory representatives who worked for the theater seating division. Believe it or not, many of these gentlemen and women are active on the Internet and are generally pleased to be of assistance.(However we don’t have a list of these folks so please, no requests. If we find any we’ll publish their email addresses, and former Heywood reps are invited to contact us if they would like to make their past expertise and experience available to the public. All information we receive will be held strictly confidential, and only email addresses will appear on our website, at your discretion.)

Wicker/Rattan

The old Heywood-Wakefield Company was the king of wicker and rattan furniture well into the 20th century, having nearly completely dominated this field in the second half of the 19th. Before the consolidation between Heywood Brothers & Company and the Wakefield Rattan Company, various labels were used and will appear on wicker furniture. Again, the most comprehensive source for this information is the first part of the book A COMPLETED CENTURY: THE STORY OF HEYWOODWAKEFIELD (see BOOKS, below), much of which appears verbatim in the first part of the “Rouland Book”. Please see this source before contacting us for information on wicker and rattan, as there is not a lot we can add to the discussion that’s not covered there. As stated above, we have no access to original pricing or dates of manufacture of a specific piece. In the case of wicker and rattan, many conventional antiques dealers have a good deal of knowledge on this category in general, and seem to be knowledgeable on Heywood-Wakefield to some degree as well.
In addition, some cities have antiques stores that specialize in wicker and rattan, and these are an obvious place to begin a search. Also, as mentioned in BOOKS, the Fine Arts section of most libraries will have books on American furniture which usually contain some discussion of this type of furniture.

Colonial & Early American Furniture

The old Heywood-Wakefield company had several lines that could be classified as Colonial or Early American, and from time to time pieces from these groups appear in used furniture stores, estate and garage sales, auctions, thrift stores, etc. To our knowledge, there is no one doing business exclusively in this type of Heywood-Wakefield, and no market for the styles seems to have established itself. Consequently, collectible values for these styles have not been established either, if in fact there are any. Our best guess is that whatever you paid for an item is what it’s worth, and that it is probably a mistake to buy this furniture with the idea of selling it for a profit. Once again, Rouland devotes a few passages to this subject.
Of course, any well-preserved piece of Heywood-Wakefield Colonial or Early American will have value as good used furniture, and you can approximate the value of an item by comparing it to what is available today. A visit to any higher quality traditional furniture store should provide a basis for comparison. The NICHOLS & STONE COMPANY (www.nicholsandstone.com), also of Garnder, Massachusetts, makes many high-quality pieces in Early American and Colonial Styles. Perhaps requesting their catalog will provide both a basis for value comparison and a source for furniture that is compatible with Heywood-Wakefield Colonial and Early American, should your goal be to add to furniture you already have.

Vintage Fabrics

To our knowledge, there is no place to get vintage Heywood-Wakefield upholstery fabrics, of the types that are shown in the old catalogs, or as might be found on an individual piece of “found” furniture. Furthermore, the nature of the upholstery fabric business almost certainly guarantees that the companies which made original Heywood-Wakefield fabrics have long since closed or relocated. We do not reproduce the old fabrics; the fabrics on our website are chosen to reflect the original styles, but are modern fabrics that are in production today, and which meet today’s standards for durability, fire-retardancy, etc. Besides our fabrics, there are quite a few patterns available that are consistent with styles of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, but be prepared to shop in the high end of this market. The Schumacher Company has museum reproductions of original Joseph Hoffman fabrics and other wonderful “retro” patterns; Kravet has many stylish and interesting patterns that are suitable for older styles of furniture (and are more moderately priced); and such things as Frank Lloyd Wright museum reproductions are available through the Taliessen Foundation. The Los Angeles, California, area has an abundance of upholstery manufacturers and fabric suppliers, and there are thousands of patterns available during the January fabric show in High Point, North Carolina. There are also a number of vintage fabric sellers in the U.S. who advertise in various places, such as ECHOES MAGAZINE, but vintage fabrics must be carefully inspected for signs of fatigue before committing to expensive re-upholstery jobs, and we generally don’t recommend them for anything but replaceable cushions which can be changed easily and relatively inexpensively.

Books

Heywood-Wakefield Modern Furniture: Identification and Value Guide by Steven and Roger Rouland, published by Collector Books of Paducah, KY.
Currently, “The Rouland Book” is the most frequently quoted source for identification of the Modern and Streamline styles of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s,and contains a price guide that is widely used by collectibles dealers and the general public. It is also the only reference book specifically devoted to Heywood-Wakefield furniture of this period. It contains verbatim reproductions of showroom and salesman’s catalogs from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, along with some additional research on the company and various designers of the Modern lines. The “Rouland Book” does not contain everything there is to know about Heywood-Wakefield, but it is virtually the only source readily available “off the shelf” (i.e., without doing your own research). It can be purchased at bookstores or from these sources:
COLLECTOR BOOKS
P. O. BOX 3009
PADUCAH, KY 42002-3009
(800) 626-5420
LUCKY LINDY’S
STEVEN ROULAND
305 S.W. CONSTITUTION STREET
PEORIA, IL 61602
(309) 673-2637
The Rouland book begins by reprinting a substantial amount of information from an earlier work that may be hard to find, but which contains much information of a general nature about the Company before 1926. This is entitled A Completed Century: The Story of Heywood-Wakefield, and was actually the company’s 1926 corporate report of its first hundred years* done up as a slim, hardbound volume and distributed to Heywood-Wakefield employees, complete with a personalized greeting card from Levi H. Greenwood, who was president at the time. This book was never released publicly, which is why it may be hard to find. However, a good book search company might be able to turn one up.
There are also a number of general or special-interest books dealing with furniture manufacturing, decorative styles, the production of wicker and rattan, innovations in manufacturing techniques and related subjects containing references to or passages about Heywood-Wakefield. The Fine Arts section of any good library will contain some of these. Browsing through the indexes to these books will often yield references to Heywood-Wakefield which may provide information on a particular subject of interest. Some of these books, while not directly concerned with Heywood-Wakefield, nevertheless discuss styles and types of furniture made during the same period, which may be of use. For instance, Bent Wood and Metal Furniture, 1850-1946, edited by Derek Ostergard, was produced in conjunction with a show that toured in the early 1990s, and has a wealth of information on mid-century styles and influences.
Another useful group of books are those about designers who were active in the middle of the 20th century, some of whom worked for Heywood-Wakefield at one time or another. These include Gilbert Rohde, Russell Wright, Leo Jiranek, Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, W. Joseph Carr, Ernst Herrman, Alfons Bach, and others, some of whom where not even primarily furniture designers, but had a hand in influencing Heywood-Wakefield styles. Capsule histories of some of these people can be found in The Dictionary of Furniture, by Charles Boyce. This useful book also contains many insightful paragraphs dealing with a wide array of related subjects.

* The Company dated itself from 1826, when Walter Heywood first began making chairs in a shed on his father’s Gardner farm.

Can I buy parts for my vintage Heywood-Wakefield?

At this time we do not offer replacement parts for any vintage Heywood-Wakefield and there are no plans to do so.

Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Construction

What wood is the new Heywood-Wakefield made from?
New Heywood-Wakefield, like old Heywood-Wakefield, is made from solid Northern Yellow Birch. There is a misconception among some people that Heywood-Wakefield furniture was made from maple, but except for some early 1930s styles, this is not the case.
Is the new Heywood-Wakefield birch the same wood as the old?
Yes. However, because our finish is clearer and lighter than the original finishes, for many components of our furniture we select lumber of a higher grade than was originally used. For instance, table-top surfaces are constructed from SAP wood, which is lighter and shows fewer dark spots that lower grades of lumber, known as “heartwood”.
Where do you get the wood?
Birch for Heywood-Wakefield comes from professionally-managed, environmentally responsible tree farms in New Hampshire. Birch is not an endangered species, and at least one tree is planted for every one taken.
Where is the furniture made?
New Heywood-Wakefield is made in two locations. All wood furniture is made in north central Massachusetts. Upholstered pieces such as club chairs and davenports are made in western North Carolina.

Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Finish

What finish is available for new Heywood-Wakefield? Does it match the old finishes?
New Heywood-Wakefield is offered in a finish called Amber, which some people refer to as "honey-wheat". It’s lighter and clearer than the original Wheat or Champagne finishes, but blends well with either.

Amber is a proprietary finish specially formulated for us and not available commercially. Government restrictions on the shipment of hazardous materials make it impossible for us to sell finishes, and as a result we do not offer the finish for sale. In addition, our supplier does not sell to the general public, however our Amber finish is not suitable for use with vintage Heywood-Wakefield anyway.

But for those who desire our Amber finish on their vintage pieces, there is good news.

Amber finish was specifically developed to closely match the color that results when vintage Heywood-Wakefield furniture is stripped and re-done without reapplying the original Wheat or Champagne stain coats. If your vintage pieces are stripped and refinished in a certain way, they will closely match our Amber finish without using any stain coat, however this assumes the vintage pieces have been properly stripped of their original finish. Please read our brief comments below on refinishing for some guidance on how to achieve this.
Are original Champagne and Wheat finishes available?
We do not offer any of the original finishes, either on our furniture or in bulk stains, and to our knowledge, there is nowhere to buy wheat and champagne ready-mixed.
Is the new Heywood-Wakefield finish the same chemical compound as the original finish?
No it is not. Originally Heywood-Wakefield was finished in nitrocellulose lacquer. New Heywood-Wakefield is finished in a catalyzed conversion varnish, which is many times stronger and much less prone to damage than lacquer. However conversion varnishes retain the subtle beauty of lacquer finishes.
Are new Heywood-Wakefield pieces hand rubbed as the old ones were?
Yes, many of our pieces are finished this way, to include table tops, tops of bedroom pieces, etc.
Can I buy new Heywood-Wakefield furniture without a finish on it?
Under certain circumstances we can offer Heywood-Wakefield unfinished so that those who wish to match a particular finish may do so. Some restrictions apply; please phone (305) 858-4240 for details.
Can Vintage Heywood-Wakefield Be Refinished To Look Like The New Heywood-Wakefield Pieces?
We are frequently asked if our Amber stain is available for sale. As we explained above, it isn’t, but you don't need to use our stain to get your old pieces to match the color of our new ones. In fact, you don’t need any stain at all.

We continue to recommend having your vintage Heywood-Wakefield furniture professionally refinished, and we do offer to speak with your refinishing professional about how to match our furniture. It’s pretty simple; here are the details.

Once the vintage pieces have been correctly stripped and sanded - the hardest and most important part of any refinishing job - they will look much lighter that they were in the old Wheat or Champagne finishes you removed. At this point, anything applied to them - such as sanding sealer - will cause them to darken down to a mellow amber color, due to the effect UV rays have had on the wood for 60 or 70 years. This basically is our color. If an amber sealer (as opposed to “water white” sealer) is used, followed by an amber lacquer or conversion varnish top coat, your old pieces will come very close to the amber color of our furniture. No stain coat of any kind, ours or anyone else’s, is necessary. Two coats of amber sealer, sanded in between, followed by top coat will produce a finish very much like ours. Once again, have your professional refinisher call us; we’ve spoken with many of them and we’re happy to help.

By the way, the reason we created our Amber finish is that new wood doesn't act this way. It hasn't had time to be darkened by UV rays and needs a stain coat to achieve the same mellow amber color as refinished vintage pieces. We used refinished vintage pieces as a color guide when we developed the Amber stain.

Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Upholstered Furniture

What is the construction process like for the new Heywood-Wakefield upholstered pieces?
New Heywood-Wakefield club chairs, davenports and love seats in the Madeline and Margaret series feature superior interior construction. All frames are 100% hardwood. All springs are 8-way hand-tied 9-inch coil springs. Each upholstered piece is built to order. Biscayne series davenports, chairs and love seats are 100% solid birch frames with spring-interior seat cushions and foam backrests. Biscayne series items have elastic webbing to support the cushions.
Does the price for an upholstered piece include the fabric?
No, it does not. Fabrics are priced separately due to the great variety of fabrics available. However, the price does include installing the fabric and constructing the piece.
May I use my own upholstery fabric instead of yours?
Yes, you are welcome to supply your own fabric if you do not find one in our collection that suits your taste or purpose. At the time of your order you will be given instructions where to send the fabric.

Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: General FAQ's

Why Don't We Have a Shopping Cart?
We're occasionally asked why we don't have a shopping cart or other e-commerce functionality on our website. Basically, we don't think it's befitting of the level of service we strive to offer.

Our customers are making a considerable investment to make a lasting statement with their home furnishings. In many cases, high-quality furniture is the third largest purchase people make, after their homes and their vehicles. Shopping for their furniture is an exciting process driven by personal taste and the need to find the perfect pieces.

We're always grateful to be part of that process, and to encounter the enthusiasm of our customers. Most people who buy from us have important questions about our furniture, understandable when they're investing thousands of dollars into their home décor. They want to speak with a knowledgeable representative of the company.

We answer our phones promptly and return messages and emails as soon as possible. We don't make people listen to an automated directory and press 1 for the sales department, 2 for shipping, and so on. When you have questions or want to buy from us, you can do so by phone or online contact form and take comfort knowing a Heywood-Wakefield employee will respond personally.

We are committed to personal service. We believe our products deserve it, and more importantly, our customers deserve it. An online shopping cart just isn't in line with how we operate.
Can the StyleMasterbed be used as a platform bed or does it require a box spring?
The StyleMaster bed in Queen, King and California King sizes can be used either as a regular bed with box spring and mattress or as a platform bed, with no box spring.
The bed ships with the following components:
Headboard (1)
Footboard (1)
Side rails (2)
Center support rails (1)
Adjustable center support feet (1 pr)
Cross slats (4)
The side rails attach to the headboard and footboard by means of a metal clip and can be installed in one of two positions. When installed in the lower position, a box spring may be used, but depending on the depth of the box spring and mattress, the mattress may be higher than the footboard.
If you wish to use the StyleMaster bed as a platform bed, the side rails are installed in the higher position and the Platform Adaptor Kit is used. The PlatformAdaptor Kit consists of an extra dozen solid birch slats, giving a total of 16 (4 are included with the bed). In this configuration there is no need for a box spring.
What is the cost of the Platform Adaptor Kit?
The Adaptor Kit costs $175.00, which is less than half the price of the average box spring.
Why are there two different prices for Platform Adaptor Kits?
The Platform Adaptor Kit for new queen and king beds functions with certain parts that are already installed on the side rails of all new queen and king beds.

Original Heywood-Wakefield full or twin beds do not have these parts. The Platform Adaptor Kit for Vintage Heywood-Wakefield beds therefore includes these parts, which are to be installed on your vintage bed, as well as the rest of the platform kit parts.

The difference in cost between the two kits is due to the additional parts included with the Vintage kit.

PLEASE NOTE: Our Vintage Platform Adaptor Kit cannot be used to convert your vintage full bed to a queen or king. We do not manufacture a kit for this purpose.
When should I order a California King Bed?
The California King Bed is recommended only to buyers in California, or who have access to Cal/King mattresses, sheets and related items. Outside of California it can be difficult to buy Cal/King products, and we do not recommend purchasing a Cal/King bed unless you live in California.
What's the cost of shipping?
All new Heywood-Wakefield wood furniture ships from Massachusetts; all the upholstered ships from North Carolina. Many factors are involved in figuring the cost of shipping, and it is not always possible to get exact costs in advance. However you can get an approximate cost by contacting us.

Have a questions about your vintage HEYWOOD-WAKEFIELD furniture?

Vintage Questions

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