Dating old hickory furniture

These were constructed of willow, pine, oak or chestnut, but sometimes were of the same designs as the rustic furniture that those manufacturers made from hickory poles.

Finally, we have occasionally encountered confusion caused by the names of two makers of non-rustic contemporary and reproduction furniture Hickory Chair Company and Old Hickory Tannery which are very similar to the names of the traditional rustic hickory furniture companies. There were six major companies and several minor companies producing rustic furniture made with hickory poles in Indiana during the first half of the 20th century.

Old Hickory Furniture

Old Hickory was the most prolific and longest lasting rustic hickory furniture manufacturer, so more of their products turn up on the market than do the products of all the other Indiana hickory manufacturers combined. Not all dealers or auctioneers are as careful about that nomenclature, however, so you cannot always be sure that a piece that a seller calls Old Hickory was actually made by Old Hickory Furniture Company.

It helps if the furniture is branded or tagged with an authentic Old Hickory identifier, but the company did not consistently stamp all of the furniture it produced. So if a piece is marked Old Hickory, non-specialist dealers and customers can be sure of its maker, but if it is not marked, it does not necessarily mean that the piece was not made by Old Hickory. After decades of handling and studying hickory furniture and collecting original catalogs from all of the manufacturers, we can usually pinpoint its maker from various clues, so we often do not even look for a brand before making a purchase.

When we advertise an unmarked piece as Old Hickory, we are always happy to explain to a potential buyer how we identified it as such in that particular case. The first incarnation of the Old Hickory company was called Old Hickory Chair Company, a name which lasted from When Old Hickory Chair Company changed its name to Old Hickory Furniture Company in , it used the brand shown below, modified just slightly from the earlier brand.

Old Hickory Furniture: A detailed History by Ralph Kylloe

This stamp was used into the s. The brand pictured below was used throughout the s, and is what appears on the majority of stamped pieces we encounter. There are hundreds of furniture designs from this era, but here is one example with a s brand. After Old Hickory Furniture Company shifted to making generic furniture that was not in a rustic style and not made from hickory. Therefore, any furniture with an Old Hickory Shelbyville tag pictured below was made sometime between and today.

Since this is contemporary furniture that is still being manufactured, it is not something that we buy or sell. Even when a contemporary hickory piece does not have a brass Shelbyville tag, it is not difficult to distinguish it from early Old Hickory pieces. One was to make it easier for me to sell the pieces, but the other was to make it more expensive to buy.

Consequently, when a new lodge or restaurant was being built, I was the one who was contracted to decorate the place. On many occasions I have sold to an individual over a hundred pieces of hickory furniture. In time I also realized that these homes and lodges that I was decorating needed lighting, wall hangings, and other decorative accessories, so I started buying all the antique snowshoes, skis, fishing creels, antlers, Indian rugs, canoe paddles, camp signs, and many other rustic decorative antiques that I could find.


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I bought hickory pieces from all over the country: A few years ago, after reviewing my records, I realized that I have owned over twelve thousand pieces of hickory furniture and have had the opportunity to see many more. Although, at first glance one might consider, that I was quite mercenary in my approach to rustic furniture, I am, first and foremost, an academic.

Even though I have owned more pieces than the average person will see in a lifetime, I am more interested in the history of the pieces than their monetary value. Being able to examine many pieces of hickory furniture has been critical in the understanding of their history. I remember a few years ago listening to a horse trainer explain that he had the capability of looking at a horse and, within a few moments, knowing if the horse was going to be a winner. He had trained so many horses that he knew from bone structure, gait, energy level, and general appearance how the animal would perform.

After many years of looking at and researching hickory furniture, it takes only a second for me to recognize the form, the maker, and condition of the piece. A year or so ago an individual offered me a table that was adorned with spindles on the double stretchers between the legs. I knew immediately that the legs had been cut down by a half an inch, which was, in reality, not much.

Old Hickory Furniture

The seller was adamant and insisted that I was wrong. I persisted and informed him that all tables made by the Old Hickory Furniture Company had their legs slightly chamfered where they hit the ground. I then showed him that the legs were flat to the ground and also mentioned that the table was shorter than the thirty inches tall it was supposed to be. He never did believe me but, in reality, the table had been cut down.

Small Town Big Deal - Old Hickory Furniture

I bought it anyway because I liked it. Initially there were only two books and a few articles that mentioned Indiana Hickory furniture. In time, other academic works appeared, but they all, my first book included, contained inaccurate and sketchy information. The books unfortunately contained photos that were incorrectly identified and dates that were wrong.

Actually, Ed Brown and his business associate, Ralph Barrett, jointly purchased the firm around from the Wood family.

Brown and Barrett sold the company a few years later to the Shireman Brothers of Martinsville, Indiana. The seat and back ha The condition portrayed is my amateur opinion but I do my best to reveal any imperfections and take many photos of each item. I was unable to find a mark on either of the chairs. It is in very good condition. I live about 60 miles south of Chicago near I I am not a collector or dealer of hickory furniture.

Table is amazing with a great form and very heavy, solid as a rock.


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  • Size 68"L x 38"W x 30'5 high. Nice high-back Old Hickory wrap-around arm chair.

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    Here we have a really cool hard to find hickory 's high chair in excellent original condition. The color and original weave is in excellent original condition. Size is 41"H x 16"W x 16"D. Here we have great hard to find set of Signed Indiana willow four bar stools in excellent original condition. All chairs signed with paper labels.