Monday, August 14, 2017

A Pair of Chippendale Dressers in Gray

Well these two dressers are wonderful. I don't think there's much to argue about there. They're custom for clients, part of a group brought to me to refinish for their new home, and really, they're just drop dead gorgeous, made by Willett Furniture Company of Louisville, KY. The company was founded in 1934 by a pair of brothers, Consider (um, best name ever?!) and W.R. (who was named for his father, William, and clearly lost the name lottery). The Willett boys had made their money in lumber, and decided to diversify into fine furniture, an apparently common move in the early 20th century (Thomasville's founders were also lumber guys originally).

 Willett Furniture quickly became synonymous with elegant design, and construction of impeccable quality. I've worked on three or four pieces of Willett over the years, and I can tell you it's the real deal; absolutely exceptional quality. They became heavy hitters in the mass produced furniture world, raking in big big bucks in the post WWII housing boom, with clients often waiting up to a year for their furniture. The company continued to thrive throughout the fifties, but unfortunately their unwillingness to compromise on quality led to their eventual downfall as other crappier manufacturers lured clients away with basement pricing (ahem, looking at you Thomasville).

By 1962 the company was bankrupt, which is both sad, and a bit fascinating as it gives us a hard and fast back date for this stuuuuunning pair of solid cherry dressers (and twin beds not pictured). I will venture that these lovelies were made in the heart of the Willett heyday c.1948-1954. The fully formed twist turned columns are magnificent, and interestingly, a detail we see in eastern Connecticut furniture manufacture c.1770-1810 as well. And here it is 250 years later, and the form still feels modern, and yummy. Just goes to show you that good design never goes bad.

A cherry highboy made by imminent Southeastern Connecticut furniture maker John Wheeler Geer c.1780-1795. Recently handled by Nathan Liverant and Son Antiques. Source  

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