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There are still many people who do not realize that the incredible mid-century modern styles of 1940s and 1950s Heywood-Wakefield furniture did not disappear forever when the original company went into bankruptcy in 1979. In 1992 the name and trademark were rescued by and reassigned to the South Beach Furniture Company, Inc., a Miami company… Continue Reading
Theater, School and Auditorium Seating
Colonial & Early American Furniture
Furniture Questions – StyleMaster Beds
Can you help me identify and value my vintage Heywood-Wakefield furniture?
Our ability to identify vintage Heywood-Wakefield pieces is limited to the blond, streamline styles from the 1940s and 1950s. We have no information on Colonial, Early American or earlier oak furniture of the type often found in schools and offices before WWII, or on any other Heywood-Wakefield series after the early 1960s. Likewise we do not have information or spare parts for any of the commercial seating, such as theater, auditorium, stadium or school seating, once available from the old company.
Regarding identification of the blond streamline Heywood-Wakefield, we ask that before contacting us you first attempt to consult the various books available on this subject, as these books are also our only source of information. (See below).
Please note: as a company policy as well as a practical matter, we cannot advise you on what your vintage Heywood-Wakefield furniture is worth. The main reason for this is that we are not in the antiques business; we don’t buy and sell vintage pieces, and we don’t make an attempt to keep abreast of what goes on in the antiques world. Second, values for vintage Heywood-Wakefield vary widely around the country; what’s valuable in New York City might be less (or more) so in, say, Utah.
These have been several books written on the subject of Heywood-Wakefield. Unfortunately, none of them is currently in print, but they regularly show up on eBay. The most popular is this one:
Heywood-Wakefield Modern Furniture: Identification and Value Guide by Steven and Roger Rouland, published by Collector Books of Paducah, KY.
Commonly referred to as “The Rouland Book”, this is the only book that features a value guide for vintage Heywood-Wakefield, and it is the one that antiques dealers usually use to determine what they’ll pay for vintage pieces. No one can accurately determine what a given item will sell for every time, but it provides a starting point.
Probably the best way to determine the value of what you have is to check frequently on eBay. There are literally hundreds of Heywood-Wakefield pieces on eBay on any given day; it is easy to see what others are asking for a piece similar or identical to yours. However, it is important to understand the difference between an “asking” price and a “selling” price. If you see a table priced at, say, $1000.00, and it’s been there for a week and there are no bids, it’s relatively safe to assume the seller is asking too much, and you should not conclude that your identical table is worth $1000.00. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of would-be sellers on eBay who don’t appear to have a realistic idea of what the value of various Heywood-Wakefield pieces might be. It’s a fact that since the late 1990s, eBay has been responsible for a decline in the value of vintage items, owing to the fact that certain items that used to be very hard to find are now usually available on eBay pretty much whenever you care to go looking for one.
As for our company’s ability to identify the name, value, original selling price, or years of manufacture of your vintage Heywood-Wakefield furniture, the fact is that we do not have this information, or any other original archival information from the old Heywood-Wakefield company. Nor as far as we know, does anybody else. We do not believe any of it exists today, and we don’t know of anyone who has taken the time to research and catalog this information. Heywood-Wakefield was liquidated through bankruptcy in 1979; its plant and equipment were auctioned off years ago, and any archival material that might have survived the liquidation appears to have either been destroyed or has passed into private hands.
What information we have available is presented here in the hope it will prove useful. However our business is manufacturing new products for today’s furniture buyers, and we are grateful for your understanding that the identification and value of vintage Heywood-Wakefield is not our area of expertise. Back to the top
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, features American, 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.) Back to the top
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. Back to the top
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. Back to the top
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. Back to the top
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. Back to the top
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.
Is the new Heywood-Wakefield made of solid wood? Any veneer, particle board, or plywood?
All new Heywood-Wakefield furniture is made from 100% solid Northern Yellow Birch. No veneer, particle board or plywood is used, except for the interior drawer dividers in one desk model. Using birch plywood for this component provides much greater strength and durability, and is completely invisible. All visible components on this and all other pieces are solid yellow birch. No veneer is used anywhere.
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. Back to the top
What finish is available for new Heywood-Wakefield? Does it match the original finishes?
New Heywood-Wakefield is offered in a finish called “Amber”. This is a special finish developed for us by the Sherwin-Williams company to be very close in color to vintage Heywood-Wakefield that has been stripped and refinished in a “natural” color. Some people refer to this color as “honey-wheat”.
Amber is both clearer and lighter than either champagne or wheat, the two most common original Heywood-Wakefield finishes. While it is not an exact match for either of these finishes, many people have purchased new Heywood-Wakefield finished in Amber for use with vintage pieces of either original finish. Many people have also refinished their original pieces to match new Heywood-Wakefield, and if you have refinished vintage pieces, they will usually match well with Amber.
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 Kem-Var, which is a catalyzed conversion varnish made by the Sherwin-Williams company. Kem-var is many times stronger and much less prone to damage than lacquer, yet it retains the beauty of lacquer.
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. Back to the top
Can the StyleMaster bed 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:
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 Platform Adaptor 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.
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. Back to the top
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.
Where does Heywood-Wakefield ship from?
All new Heywood-Wakefield wood furniture ships from Massachusetts; all the upholstered ships from North Carolina.
Can I get the cost of shipping in advance?
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 following the instructions here:
What is the construction of 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.
Except for smaller items which can ship through FedEx Ground (see below), we ship our furniture via common carrier. We use two very well-known and reputable carriers – ABF Freight System and R & L Carriers. Both have excellent service and reputations with us; we pick the most economical one for each shipment. ABF accepts… Continue Reading
Heywood-Wakefield Refinishing Don’ts There are a lot of opinions on refinishing techniques for furniture in general and Heywood-Wakefield furniture in particular. No one has all the answers, certainly not us, but we would like to venture an opinion here as it pertains to Heywood-Wakefield furniture. First, we would like to re-state the advice noted in other parts… Continue Reading