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Rare Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Victorian Wicker Conversation Gossip Chair



Perhaps the Rarest of all Victorian Wicker pieces, this parlor chair was used for Ladies to gossip while not facing one another or to limit contact between courting couples. Victorian to its extreme, it has curlicues, a woven beaded apron with open weave skirt below, birdcage supported armrests, rolled woven backs, braiding, brass leg caps, cane seats and every imaginable bell or whistle. Somehow it has been painted white with a gold trim, which has worn off in some places. We leave it to the new owner to choose a new finish to this unbelievable piece. If only it could talk, what a tale it could tell! It can be seen in Collector's Guide to American Wicker Furniture by Richard Saunders on page 116, Living With Wicker by Saunders and Olsson page 49 and in Collecting and Restoring Wicker by Richard Saunders it is shown on page 33 as part of as illustrated as piece number 6262 an old Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Company catalog photo. This rare piece is quite well documented.


  • Creator
    Heywood-Wakefield Co. (Workshop/Studio)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 38 in. (96.52 cm)Width: 48 in. (121.92 cm)Depth: 22 in. (55.88 cm)Seat Height: 12 in. (30.48 cm)
  • Style
    Victorian (Of the Period)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
  • Condition
    Refinished. Wear consistent with age and use. Minor fading. Structurally sturdy with no noticeable broken or missing pieces. Original except for paint. White paint is worn on cane seats and other areas . Gilded areas are also worn. No heavy over paint. Seat seams are visible, but not damaged.
  • Seller Location
    Miami Beach, FL
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU1946312269311

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: Miami Beach, FL
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 3 days of delivery.

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About the Workshop_studio

Heywood-Wakefield Co.

Created by the 19th-century merger of two venerable Massachusetts furniture makers, Heywood-Wakefield was one of the largest and most successful companies of its kind in the United States. In its early decades, the firm thrived by crafting affordable and hugely popular wicker pieces in traditional and historical styles. In the midst of the Great Depression, however, Heywood-Wakefield reinvented itself, creating instead the first modernist furnishings to be widely embraced in American households. The Heywoods were five brothers from Gardner, Massachusetts, who in 1826 started a business making wooden chairs and tables in their family shed. As their company grew, they moved into the manufacture of furniture with steam-bent wood frames and cane or wicker seats, backs and sides. In 1897, they joined forces with a local rival, the Wakefield Rattan Company, whose founder, Cyrus Wakefield, got his start on the Boston docks buying up lots of discarded rattan, which was used as cushioning material in the holds of cargo ships, and transforming it into furnishings. The conglomerate initially did well with both early American style and woven pieces, but taste began to change at the turn of the 20th century and wicker furniture fell out of fashion. In 1930, the company brought in designer Gilbert Rohde, a champion of the Art Deco style. Before departing in 1932 to lead the Michigan furniture maker Herman Miller, Rohde created well-received sleek, bentwood chairs for Heywood-Wakefield and gave its colonial pieces a touch of Art Deco flair. Committed to the new style, Heywood-Wakefield commissioned work from an assortment of like-minded designers, including Alfons Bach, W. Joseph Carr, Leo Jiranek and Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a Russian nobleman who had made his name in Europe creating elegant automotive body designs. In 1936, the company introduced its “Streamline Modern” group of furnishings, presenting a look that would define the company’s wares for another 30 years. The buoyantly bright, blond wood — maple initially, later birch — came in finishes such as amber “wheat” and pink-tinted “champagne.” The forms of the pieces, at once light and substantial, with softly contoured edges and little adornment beyond artful drawer pulls and knobs, were featured in lines with names such as “Sculptura,” “Crescendo” and “Coronet.” It was forward-looking, optimistic and built to last — a draw for middle-class buyers in the Baby Boom years. By the 1960s, Heywood-Wakefield began to be seen as “your parents’ furniture.” The last of the Modern line came out in 1966; the company went bankrupt in 1981. The truly sturdy pieces have weathered the intervening years well, having found a new audience for their blithe and happy sophistication.
About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Miami Beach, FL
Platinum Seller
These expertly vetted sellers are 1stDibs' most experienced sellers and are rated highest by our customers.
Established in 1979
1stDibs seller since 2016
141 sales on 1stDibs
Typical response time: <1 hour
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