Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Vintage Furniture Questions
Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Vintage Furniture Questions
We apologize but we are no longer able to assist with vintage Heywood-Wakefield furniture identification or valuation
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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:
P. O. BOX 3009
PADUCAH, KY 42002-3009
305 S.W. CONSTITUTION STREET
PEORIA, IL 61602
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.
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
Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Finish
Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: Upholstered Furniture
Today’s Heywood-Wakefield: General FAQ's