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American of Martinsville

American of Martinsville is today revered as one of the finest manufacturers of mid-century modern furniture in the United States, but its beginnings were unexpectedly humble.

Well ahead of the Civil War, tobacco was a cash crop in places such as Virginia, and the plant was grown with frequency on farms in Martinsville and elsewhere. In the early 1900s, the business around tobacco was changing and the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was expanding nationally, buying any Virginia factories in reach. Former tobacco producers Ancil Witten and Charles Keesee turned away from the business in 1906 and, with merely $30,000 in capital (and the support of local business leaders), began to manufacture bedroom furniture under the name American Furniture Company.

In the 1920s, American Furniture Company expanded its offerings from bedroom furnishings. Alongside tallboy dressers and nightstands, Witten and Keesee’s outfit began to offer a range of dining-room sets to the discerning customer. By the 1950s, the name had been changed to American of Martinsville and the brand had gained a reputation for exquisite craftsmanship as well as its variety of furniture styles (Hollywood Regency, chinoiserie). Mass-marketed furniture meant big business in the postwar years and throughout the 20th century in Virginia, and factories owned by companies like Bassett Furniture and American of Martinsville remained busy as suburbanites bought furniture to fill the homes they were moving into.

It isn’t difficult to spot American of Martinsville’s sturdy, solid designs — the lacquered walnut nightstands, mahogany coffee tables and more have long earned the admiration of mid-century modernism enthusiasts. The company’s high profile also owes to prominent attributes that distinguish its well-made vintage furniture, such as the use of wooden slats — inspired by Scandinavian modernism — on hutches and cabinet doors, the famous brass x’s inlaid on the tops of tables and dressers and the stately stacked type of the American of Martinsville logo, which usually appears in drawer interiors. The stamp prominently features an eagle perched atop the lettering, its broad wings spread across the “American” portion.

Besides quality manufacturing, American of Martinsville is additionally recognized for having incorporated the trends of the day. Inspired by designers like George Nakashima and Paul Laszlo, the brand was also known for innovations with wood. Merton Gershun was one of the company’s most prolific designers, and he was responsible for some of its most successful modern furniture lines using the richer, darker woods that would become emblematic of mid-century furniture. Gershun’s most popular line was reportedly Dania, with its sleek walnut credenzas fitted with stylish brass accents and large drawers. Today, American of Martinsville specializes in furniture for the healthcare and hospitality industries.

Shop a wide selection of vintage American of Martinsville mid-century modern sideboards, side tables and more on 1stDibs.

Mid-Century Modern Low Boy 9 Drawer Dresser by American of Martinsville
By American of Martinsville
Located in Las Vegas, NV
Handsome Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville long triple dresser. Tons of storage with nine spacious drawers. Danish styling with the superior, 1960s era American craftsmansh...
Category

1960s Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Walnut

American of Martinsville Mid Century Walnut and Brass Lowboy Dresser
By American of Martinsville
Located in Countryside, IL
American of Martinsville mid century walnut and brass lowboy dresser This lowboy dresser measures: 61.75 wide x 19.5 deep x 31.5 inches high All pieces of furniture can be had ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Brass

Rosewood Ebony Small Chest / Nightstand by American of Martinsville
By American of Martinsville
Located in Cincinnati, OH
A four drawer rosewood and ebony toned small chest or nightstand having rich graining with chrome pulls . A great chest for a tight space or use as a nightstand because of it's talle...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville

Materials

Wood

American of Martinsville Modern Credenza with Brass Inlay, Circa 1960
By American of Martinsville
Located in Philadelphia, PA
An American of Martinsville modern walnut credenza with brass inlay, Circa 1960.   
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Wood

American of Martinsville Campaign Light Wood & Cane Dining Chairs 2 Arm & 2 Side
By American of Martinsville
Located in Topeka, KS
Stunning set of 4 modern campaign style dining chairs 2 Arm and 2 side chairs comprised of beautiful light hardwood, radio weave cane seat backs, and fabric covered seats. Beautiful ...
Category

Late 20th Century American Campaign American of Martinsville

Materials

Cane, Wood

Mid-Century Modern Matching Pair of Chests, Commodes or Large Night Stands
By American of Martinsville
Located in Philadelphia, PA
A handsome clean line pair of chests by American of Martinsville from the 1960's. They feature beautifully grained walnut with aluminum hardware. Price includes the pair.
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Aluminum

Vintage MCM American of Martinsville "Accord" Walnut Drop Leaf Writing Desk
By American of Martinsville
Located in Chicago, IL
44” x 23” x 29.5”H; leaf adds 14”; knee hole is approx. 22.5” x 28.5”H Vintage Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville Accord petite drop leaf writing desk in walnut. Warm wal...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Walnut

American of Martinsville Dana Line Bench and Modular Cabinet
By American of Martinsville
Located in San Diego, CA
This bench and modular cabinet by American of Martinsville for the Dana Line. has a beautiful warm walnut wood. It would be an incredible entry way piece and a great place to place y...
Category

1960s North American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Walnut

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American of Martinsville furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Furniture from American of Martinsville are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our collection of American furniture from Martinsville, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. We stock 206 vintage versions of these items, while there is 0 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by American of Martinsville were created in the Mid-Century Modern style in North America during the 20th Century. If you are looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Kipp Stewart, Henredon and John Widdicomb. Prices for American of Martinsville furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at $250 and tops out at $39,500, while pieces like these can sell for $2,400 on average.
Questions About American of Martinsville
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 22, 2021
    American of Martinsville, which was founded in 1906, is still in business. The company now manufactures furniture for hotel and healthcare industries.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Elgin American was an American brand known for producing watches, jewelry and compacts during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Illinois Watchcase Company owned it. In 1901, the company abandoned the Elgin name due to trademark infringement claims made by the Elgin National Watch Co. Find a selection of Elgin American art, jewelry and watches on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertAugust 17, 2021
    American oak comes from oak trees that grow in America (as opposed to in Europe). While both are pale, American oaks have a slightly pink undertone and European oaks have a honey-hued undertone.
  • 1stDibs ExpertOctober 12, 2021
    With respect to the actual wood, the outer layer of American walnut — the sapwood — has a creamy yellow-white color whereas the inner layer — the heartwood — ranges from a golden brown to dark chocolate brown color. In more descriptive words, the color of American walnut embodies the richness of chocolate mixed with slight undertones of red wine. On 1stDibs, find a variety of antique and vintage American walnut furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    African American quilting has roots in history during slavery and was a way for African American women to bond. The quilts themselves tell stories of history, teach lessons and are beacons of hope. Shop a collection of African American quilts from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
    1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    The history of African-American quilting stretches back almost as far as the beginning of the United States itself. The craft began with slave women quilting on plantations and after emancipation, the tradition of quilting continued. Today, there are many African American quilters who are inspired by a number of different quilting traditions. On 1stDibs, shop a collection of African-American quilts from some of the world’s top sellers.
  • 1stDibs ExpertOctober 12, 2021
    American cut glass is a technique used for decorating glass. The period from 1771 to 1876 is considered the early period of American cut glass — later, cut glass was called Brilliant glass. This technique is associated with high labor costs and involves the work of skilled craftsmen — American cut glass is considered a luxury item and can be very valuable.
  • 1stDibs ExpertOctober 12, 2021
    A Native American artifact is any object that provides insight into the lives and history of native people in America. These items range from carved stone pipes, weapons for hunting, tools for cooking, pottery, jewelry and more. Find a collection of artifacts on 1stDibs today.
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    What Native American drums are called varies by type. Ones designed to rest in the player's lap are hand drums, while instruments that hold water used primarily by the Iroquois and Yaqui are water drums. Large freestanding drums that produce loud percussive sounds are powwow drums. The Aztec and Hopi used foot drums. You'll find a range of Native American drums on 1stDibs.
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    It depends on which region the beads were made since they were created out of available materials found in the land around them. In the Eastern Woodlands, white and purple marine shell beads were called “wampum”. You can shop a collection of Native American beadwork from some of the world’s top boutiques on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Native American slippers are called moccasins. Moccasins are characterized by their U-shaped puckered toe design and are crafted with various leathers such as sheepskin or buffalo. They may or may not be decorated with beading. Shop a collection of authentic moccasins from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    The most well-known Native American blankets come from Navajo weaving, which are prized by collectors worldwide. Originally utilitarian, the Navajo people began creating blankets specifically for export and tourism in the 19th century. Shop a collection of Navajo blankets from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
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    What a Native American headdress represents depends on what tribe produced it. In general, headdresses may symbolize a person's status within the tribe or serve as a sign of bravery during battle. You'll find a selection of Native American headdresses on 1stDibs.
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    To identify Native American baskets, you can research the patterns using authoritative online resources to try and determine which tribe produced it. However, many replicas exist and there are many tribes that produced baskets. As a result, it is a good idea to consult a licensed appraiser. On 1stDibs, find a variety of expertly vetted Native American baskets.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 22, 2021
    American Brilliant cut glass is deeply and sharply cut glass known for its reflective quality and highly polished nature. This type of glass is thick, heavy, and very clear.
    The difference between cut glass and cut crystal is the lead content along with some other criteria. "There are three primary criteria for crystal as established by the European Union in 1969: a lead content in excess of 24%, a density in excess of 2.90 and a reflective index of 1.545." "Prior to 1969 crystal glass was generally around 36% lead. However, due to concerns over lead leaching the percentage was reduced to the [unofficial} standard of 24%. Today glass with a lead content of 10% or more is considered to be crystal or “fine glass”" in the US.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    There are a wide array of different dolls made by the various tribes of Native American peoples. Some of the most well-known are the kachinas made by the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo peoples. Shop an array of Native American dolls on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    What Native Americans used to produce baskets varied from tribe to tribe. Generally, craftsmen used whatever materials were readily available. In the Northeast, sweet grass was a common material, while pine needles and wicker are frequently found in baskets produced by tribes in the Southeast. Find a range of vintage and antique baskets on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    In the Native American language of Powhatan spoken by the Algonquian indigenous people, moccasin refers to a hand-sewn suede bootie. Today, people may call any shoes that feature stitched round toes by the name. Shop a variety of moccasins on 1stDibs.
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    To tell if Native American jewelry is real, have it evaluated by a licensed and experienced appraiser. Because every tribe has its own designs and identifying characteristics, it is usually not possible to determine authenticity using only online resources. Find a collection of expertly vetted Native American jewelry on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    To tell if cut glass is American Brilliant, look for deep cuts that reflect light with a brilliance. If you can, flick the glass gently with your fingernail and listen for a bell-like ring. Always purchase crystal from a reputable seller to ensure authenticity. Shop a large collection of American Brilliant crystal from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    What rattles symbolize in Native American culture varies from tribe to tribe. Some indigenous people believe they serve as connections between the natural and spiritual worlds. Others believe they represent the ties between animals, plants and minerals. In addition, rattles sometimes symbolize independence. On 1stDibs, find a selection of Native American rattles.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    The two types of Native American beadwork are called the “lazy stitch” or “lane stitch” and the “tack stitch” or “flat stitch”. You can shop a collection of Native American beadwork from some of the world’s top boutiques on 1stDibs.

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