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Widdicomb Furniture Co.

American

Admirers of vintage mid-century modern furnishings likely recognize the Widdicomb Furniture Company name for the fruitful partnerships it forged with iconic designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings and Mario Buatta. But there is more to the Widdicomb story than the albeit quite covetable sofas and bedroom furniture it produced during the middle of the 20th century.

A wealth of pine and oak forests rendered Grand Rapids, Michigan, a logging center during the 1800s, and it eventually gained recognition for its furniture industry. The American city became a destination for furniture makers who hailed from across the United States and beyond. 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. There, he opened a shop with his four sons, including John Widdicomb, whose name would help carry the family legacy into the 20th century.

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- and French Provincial-style furnishings. Chairs made in these styles 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. Today vintage Widdicomb seating, tables and other pieces produced during the postwar years are particularly sought after by collectors of mid-20th-century furniture.

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.

Find vintage Widdicomb coffee tables, case pieces, dining chairs and more on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Widdicomb Furniture Co.
Dealer: Antiquities
Round Widdicomb Dining Table Designed in 1938
By Widdicomb Furniture Co.
Located in Pompano Beach, FL
Round Widdicomb dining table with extension designed in 1938. There are 2 leafs that measure 12" each for a total of 24". The total length is 72 1/4" by 48". the Height is 29 Inches.
Category

1930s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Widdicomb Furniture Co.

Materials

Mahogany

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Widdicomb Furniture Co. furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Widdicomb Furniture Co. furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Widdicomb Furniture Co. furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Widdicomb Furniture Co. were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by George Nelson, Paul Frankl, and Henredon. Prices for Widdicomb Furniture Co. furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $550 and can go as high as $120,000, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $5,895.
Questions About Widdicomb Furniture Co.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 26, 2024
    To identify Widdicomb furniture, look for a paper label. On tables, you will usually find it on the underside of the tabletop, while it is typically affixed to the bottoms of seats on chairs. With casegoods, search for the label on the backs or bottoms as well as inside drawers and cabinets. The paper label will identify the maker and may also provide information about the name of the collection and/or the year of production. A certified appraiser or expert antiques dealer can also assist you with identification. On 1stDibs, find a variety of Widdicomb furniture.

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