Always Classic, Always New…Collectibles: American Victorian Wicker Furniture
From one of my favorite artists, James Tissot, The Convalescent, 1876
I have been enamored with Wicker Furniture, actually American Victorian Wicker, forever….since my home is eclectic, to the extreme, I have a couple of pieces in the mix. And, in my opinion, a perfect topic for a Randolph Street Market post anytime of the year but especially Summer when we have a lazier state of mind! RSM doesn’t go back that far in time, but is celebrating 20 years of vintage and handcrafted goods and I think it is a great time to highlight some of these eccentric pieces. For this post I’m concentrating on vintage wicker…there are many more modern era pieces available. I, once again as with anything you are purchasing, advise you do several things….research, deal with a reputable dealer, (think RSM vendors), and, of course, buy what you like when you see it! You may have a specific item in mind but might find another treasure that you didn’t know you wanted but pulls at your emotions, I say go with your “gut reaction”.
Lots of inspirational information and photos…the ornate “side chairs” shown below were often used by Victorian era photographers to pose their subjects…actually awkward seating for modern living but make great conversation pieces and most certainly usable!
I’ve have always wanted a sewing “table” this could be in the running!
I must admit I often find information I want to share and don’t write down the source, I know, not good…but here are several paragraphs that solidified my interest in the subject….
“Wicker is a style of weaving materials together in order to hold a solid shape, it is not the material itself. Wicker can be woven from rattan or other types of material, either natural or synthetic. Wicker weaving is a skill that’s been passed down from generation to generation, dating back to ancient Egypt.”
“The Victorian Wicker Furniture era pieces were made up almost entirely of rattan reed poles or steam-bent hardwoods for the frames, round and flat rattan reed pith for the weavings and embellishments, and/or wrappings of cane or rattan reed pith.”
“In the Victorian Era, people believed rattan was more sanitary than upholstered furniture. It was inexpensive and resisted harsh weather, and it came in many styles. The wickerwork of the Victorian Era was often very ornate.”
Now let’s talk about a company synonymous with the best in wicker furniture…. Haywood-Wakefield, the Rolls-Royce of American Victorian furniture. You have heard their name with the best of the best of Mid-Century Modern furniture as well. Here some information about their history from their website…
“Like so many hyphenated names, Heywood-Wakefield was once two separate entities that eventually joined together. Once upon a time, there were two furniture companies, primarily producing wicker and rattan pieces.
“Heywood Brothers was established in 1826; Wakefield Company was founded in 1855. As the 1800s wound down and the 1900s approached, rattan and wicker furniture became increasingly en vogue. The two popular companies became major rivals.
“Fortunately, this rivalry didn’t lead to destruction, but rather to peace, harmony, synergy, and greater success. In 1897, Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Company merged, becoming Heywood Brothers & Wakefield Company. They acquired a few other furniture manufacturers in the ensuing years, including Washburn-Heywood Chair Company in 1916, Oregon Chair Company in 1920, and Lloyd Manufacturing Company in 1921.
“In 1921, the company name was shortened to Heywood-Wakefield Company. Certainly, more befitting of the streamlined furniture designs the company would become famous for as it blazed a trail through the mid-century years.”
And from https://www.wickerworks.com
“One of the only substantial clues to the age of antique wicker pieces is a manufacturer’s lable. Most often found either under the seat frame or at the back of the seat frame, this vauable historical record greatly enhances the value of the given piece and should be carefully preserved. A “Heywood Brothers & Company” paper lable confirms that the piece was made during the Victorian era. A red and white “Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Company” lable attests that the piece was manufactured between 1897 and 1921. Celluloid lables with the “Heywood-Wakefield” identification appear on furniture manufactured in 1921 or after.”
Here are some examples of their furniture…
Early piece with wooden seat
Other examples of different eras and various manufacturers…and some decor suggestions…
Details…I’m obsessed with….
Anything inspiring you….there are SO many examples of wicker and rattan…have some fun with it!
All photos found on Pinterest photo credits unknown…
EXCLUSIVE FOR THE RANDOLPH STREET MARKET BY NENA IVON, Nena’s Notes