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John Widdicomb Furniture

John Widdicomb (UNITED STATES, 1845–1910)

In the Widdicomb family, furniture ran in the blood. Furniture maker George Widdicomb emigrated from England to the United States in 1845, eventually setting up a cabinet shop in Syracuse, New York, before moving west to Grand Rapids, Michigan. There, he opened a shop with his four sons, including John Widdicomb (1845–1910), whose name would help carry the family legacy into the 20th century.

A wealth of pine and oak forests rendered Grand Rapids a logging center during the 1800s, and it eventually gained recognition for its furniture industry. The city became a destination for furniture makers who hailed from across the United States and beyond. The Widdicomb shop in Grand Rapids prospered, as the patriarch’s formal English training allowed him to produce pieces with superior craftsmanship compared to those of his competitors. Although the Civil War halted business and took the life of one of the Widdicomb brothers, the family’s survivors would start anew as Widdicomb Brothers and Richards, soon renamed the Widdicomb Furniture Company.

John Widdicomb, however, split from the family business in 1897 to create the John Widdicomb Company, where he would go on to focus on Louis XV Provincial-style furnishings. Chairs made in this style have distinct characteristics, such as floral motifs carved in the frames and gently angled backrests. John's company also remained a family affair: The founder’s son, Harry, assumed control of the company when his father died in 1910, while John's nephew Ralph Widdicombe — who retained the English spelling of his last name and joined the John Widdicomb Company at its start — designed every single piece of the offerings at his uncle's manufacturing outfit until he retired in 1951. Ralph was an internationally distinguished furniture designer whose modern mahogany bedroom suite won first prize at the Paris Exposition in 1900.

The original iteration of Widdicomb, which was helmed by John's older brother William while John ran his own brand, had shifted from making period revival styles of furniture, such as Georgian and Chippendale, to manufacturing modern pieces in the late 1920s. Admirers of mid-century modern furnishings likely recognize Widdicomb for the partnerships with iconic designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings and Mario Buatta. In 1959, master woodworker George Nakashima created his Origins collection for Widdicomb when the firm merged with Mueller Furniture Corporation and was known, for around 10 years, as Widdicomb-Mueller. Origins, a revered Shaker-influenced group of nightstands, upholstered lounge chairs, dining-room tables and more, saw Nakashima working with woods like Carpathian elm and laurel in his Pennsylvania studio.

Eventually, the two Widdicomb companies would combine in 1970, operating under the name John Widdicomb Co.

In 2002, the business closed after more than a century of operations, and its assets were acquired by Stickley Furniture. Interestingly, it was not the first time Widdicomb and Stickley overlapped: In the final years of the 19th century, the companies opened a shared storehouse in London, while John Widdicomb and Albert Stickley would travel Europe together for the purposes of research.

Today, Stickley continues to produce John Widdicomb Company furniture, including French, Italian, English and Russian reproductions, as well as modern works from the first half of the 20th century.

At 1stDibs, shop tables, case pieces and other furniture made by John Widdicomb Company.

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Creator:John Widdicomb
Dealer:Jens Buettner Design Antiques
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Mario Buatta for John Widdicomb Regency Style Ebonized End Table
By Mario Buatta, John Widdicomb
Located in Pau, FR
Beautiful eye-catching Regency style end table with paint decorated mahogany top and ebonized apron and legs with gilt rings, splayed feet, and brass reverse "C" stretchers, designed...
Category

Late 20th Century American Regency John Widdicomb Furniture

Materials

Wood, Mahogany

T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings Kneehole Desk in New Black Piano Lacquer Finish
By T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, John Widdicomb
Located in Pau, FR
Stunning T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings kneehole or double pedestal desk in new black piano lacquer finish. The desk is equipped with 3 drawers in each pedestal and a middle drawer mounted ...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern John Widdicomb Furniture

Materials

Birch, Walnut, Lacquer

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