How to Identify Henredon Furniture

How To Identify Vintage Henredon Furniture

Identifying Vintage Henredon Furniture: How to Spot Authentic Mid-Century Pieces

How to Identify Henredon Furniture

Vintage furniture from iconic American brands like Henredon has steadily grown in popularity over the last decade. Mid-century modern, 18th-century-inspired and minimalist vintage pieces can instantly add a touch of history, class and design interest to any home.

However, with the surge of interest in vintage furniture comes an influx of convincing knock-offs and replicas. So how can you confidently identify whether a piece is an original vintage Henredon versus a contemporary reproduction?

There are a few key indicators to examine including manufacturer stamps, unique period-specific design elements, materials used, and construction techniques. By understanding what authentic marks and details to look for, you can better authenticate true vintage Henredon furniture.

This article will first explore a brief history of the Henredon furniture company, including some of their most popular collections through the decades. We’ll then dive into tips to spot tell-tale signs of original vintage pieces through markings, styles, materials choices and craftsmanship details.

A Brief History of Henredon Furniture

Henredon was founded in 1945 in Morganton, North Carolina, by Franklin H. Henredon. The company quickly earned a reputation for manufacturing exceptionally crafted and designed furniture.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Henredon pioneered new contemporary furniture styles, partnering with influential designers like Edward Wormley to create collections with innovative uses of materials and silhouettes. Iconic lines like the French Provincial-inspired Chateau Hill, and the 18th-century English-influenced Palladian collection incorporated rattan, quality hardwoods like cherry and mahogany, alongside other new and creative details.

Henredon developed several signature elements during this period, such as dovetail joinery, burl veneers paired with brass inlays, curves blended with strong linear profiles, and mixing materials like wood, rattan, marble, and brass. Their collections merged historical design influences with modern interpretations suited for contemporary homes [(1)].

By the 1970s and 1980s, Henredon continued to expand – adding hand-painted finishes, using lacquer, enamel and distressed paint techniques on furniture. The company grew to offer a complete bedroom, dining room and living room sets.

While Henredon furniture cease operation and was brought by Authentic Brands Group their iconic mid-century creations remain coveted vintage finds today.

How to identify Henredon Furniture

There are several reliable techniques you can use to identify whether a piece of furniture is a genuine Henredon vintage original versus a modern-day reproduction. Below we will explore some of the ways in which you can authenticate potential Henredon pieces.

Look for Markings and Stamps

How to identify Henredon Furniture - Look for Markings and Stamps

One of the most reliable ways to identify an original vintage piece of Henredon is to check furniture thoroughly for any manufacturer stamps, tags or markings.

On older vintage Henredon made before the 1960s, look underneath or on the back of furniture for an impressed stamp reading “Henredon” [(3)]. Pieces from the 1960s through the 1980s may also have a paper label, often brown or white in color, with the Henredon logo.

Some key places to methodically check for markings on Henredon furniture:

  • Underside of chairs, stools and benches
  • Base of tables and underside of table tops
  • Backs and bottom of cabinets, dressers, shelving and nightstands
  • Inside of drawers on the sides or bottoms
  • Bottom of table legs and chair legs

Keep in mind that just because a piece does not have clear manufacturer stamps, that does not automatically rule out it being Henredon. The family occasionally produced unmarked pieces as well [(4)]. In that case, you will need to rely more heavily on assessing the style, materials and craftsmanship details covered in the sections below.

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Distinct Period-Specific Design Elements and Regional Influences

In addition to markings, having a keen understanding of Henredon’s characteristic designs and styles from different eras can further aid in identifying true vintage pieces versus contemporary reproductions. Here are some of the iconic inspirations and elements to look for:

Mid-Century Clean Lines and Simplicity

Mid-Century Modern Walnut chest of drawers, 1960s

Even in their early years, Henredon embraced minimalism and a restrained design aesthetic well before these became mainstay interior style trends. Look for overall uncomplicated, streamlined silhouettes and a general absence of excessive ornamentation. Platform beds with sharp, linear angles yet a lightness are one example of this post-war sensibility.

French Provincial Inspirations

How to identify Henredon Furniture - 4 Vintage Henredon Four Centuries French Country Oak Cane Back Dining Chairs

Collections like the 1950s-1960s Chateau Hill line took cues directly from French antiques and architecture. Look for quintessential details like fluted, cabriole tapered legs often with a floral carving at the knee. Gracefully scalloped aprons, bombe chest fronts, distressed finishes, and hardware that mimics wrought iron accents also blend English and French influences. Nightstands with a bombe shape – subtly curved fronts and sides – are an iconic Chateau Hill silhouette.

18th-Century English Influences

How to identify Henredon Furniture - Henredon Georgian Burled Mahogany Flip Top Server or Bar Cabinet

Henredon collections like Kenilworth or Canterbury from the 1960s-1970s were clearly inspired by revered 18th century English furniture. Look for serpentine chest fronts with gentle S-curve shapes, ornate carving, and geometric fretwork motifs. Pieces also commonly incorporated cabinety bracket feet, burl walnut veneers, and decorative pierced brass hardware.

Nautical and Coastal Elements

How to identify Henredon Furniture 
 - HENREDON Mid 20th Century Walnut Campaign Style Bachelor Ches

For vacation homes, Henredon’s mid-century Bar Harbor collection included clever nautical references like wooden boat cleats for pulling out drawers, and circular brass portholes used decoratively as an accent. Painted finishes in ocean-inspired hues also nod to time spent by the seaside.

Rattan and Wicker

How to identify Henredon Furniture - Henredon Mid-Century Faux Bamboo and Cane Queen Size Poster Headboard, 1960s

Especially during the 1950s-60s, Henredon merged natural woven rattan or wicker with wood frames to create dining chairs, settees and occasional tables. The visible hand-woven material paired with mahogany or other dark wood shows up frequently in vintage Henredon, so inspect it closely. Synthetic rattan will have a more uniform weave versus natural material with slight irregularities.

Hardware and Joinery

How to identify Henredon Furniture

Beyond the overall silhouette and style, inspecting some of the detailed elements can provide more evidence a piece is vintage Henredon. Look for dovetailed joinery, burl veneers laid into cabinet fronts, parallel bar overlays on dressers, and high-quality metal drawer glides allowing drawers to open smoothly. These marks of integrated quality components indicate vintage origins over a new reproduction.

See Henredon furniture collections on 1stDIBS

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Materials Used Provide Time Period Clues

The specific materials used to construct furniture can provide additional visual clues into whether a piece is an authentic vintage versus modern made. Here are the key material details to look for:

High-End Hardwoods

Mahogany, American cherry and walnut were frequently used by Henredon during the height of production from the 1950s-1980s. Look for solid wood markings like visible grain patterns, weight and depth indicators. High-quality veneers will have some depth while cheaper reconstituted veneers will appear flat by comparison.

Burl Veneer Accents

The use of burl walnut veneers paired with contrasting ebony line inlays was a signature Henredon detail during the 18th century English-influenced period. Burl veneers showcase the wild, irregular grain in fine bookmatched patterns prized for visual interest.

Brass and Pewter Hardware

Metal accent details like latticework brass drawer pulls or mushroom colored pewter knobs provide vintage indicators on true furniture pieces influenced by esteemed 18th century cabinetmakers like Hepplewhite. Look for etched details versus smooth modern hardware.

Natural Rattan and Wicker

Natural hand-woven rattan paired with mahogany shows up frequently in dining chairs and settees of the 1950s-60s. Look closely at the visible weave, seeking irregularities that point to vintage handcrafting versus synthetic rattan which will appear uniform.

Marble, Granite and Slate

While not extremely common, Henredon would occasionally incorporate marble, granite or slate for tabletops or accents. Look closely to verify it is indeed stone versus man-made materials which lack randomness in the pattern. Some wear and patina also verifies vintage over faux materials.

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Craftsmanship Details Confirm Origins

Examining exactly how a furniture piece is constructed often provides the best insights into confirming origins as either vintage crafted Henredon or a contemporary recreation. Seek out these indications of authentic age and hand construction:

Traditional Joinery Techniques

Quality joinery methods include dovetail, mortise and tenon, exposed tongue and groove, and hand cut locking miters. Contrast this to furniture made using more modern techniques like staples, plastic clips, screws or nails that speed up assembly.

Evidence of Hand Finishing

Inspect finishes closely for any evidence of human handcrafting versus robotic mass production. Look for slight file marks inside drawers, brushed paint unevenness or inconsistencies, visible brush stroke marks, and hand-hammered nails or fasteners.

Labels and Markings

Historic Henredon pieces may include additional markings like “Custom Handcrafted” or a specific place of origin tag noting “High Point” or “Morganton, NC.” Tags may also indicate details like the wood type – “Solid Cherry” for example.

Indications of Authentic Age

Subtle signs of use over many decades such as small scratches, gently worn areas on surfaces, and previous repairs help confirm vintage age versus recently fabricated. Also examine veneers and finishes for cracking or discoloration consistent with natural aging over a half century or more.

Period Appropriate Hardware

Beyond the materials, quality vintage furniture often has ornate metal hardware like engraved drawer pulls, brass casters, or decorative hinges. Contrast this to minimal modern hardware on newer furniture. Check pulls and knobs for signs of wear.

Related Questions

What kind of wood is used in Henredon furniture?

Henredon utilized a variety of high-quality hardwoods to construct their vintage furniture. Some of the most common types of wood found in Henredon pieces include:

  • Mahogany – A classic furniture wood prized for its richness and depth of color. Henredon mahogany ranges from reddish brown to a deep red hue. It has an interlocking grain and ages well. Used for case pieces like dressers and dining tables.
  • Cherry – Preferred for its strength and smooth grain. Henredon cherry wood has a lighter red or pinkish brown color when new that darkens and reddens with age. Often used in cabinetry and bedroom collections.
  • Walnut – Valued for its workability and decorative figuring. Henredon walnut has a deep chocolate brown coloring with a straight, moderately open grain. Commonly used as a veneer or inlays.
  • Maple – A pale hardwood that lends itself to painted finishes. Henredon utilized maple for occasional tables and nightstands when a light-colored wood was desired.
  • Oak – Durable open-grained oak in both white and red varieties was used by Henredon, especially for dining chairs and tables. Provides beautiful fine-grain patterns.
  • Teak – Used in some Henredon patio and poolside furniture. Teak is an oily tropical hardwood ideal for outdoor pieces because of its weather and moisture resistance.

Is Henredon furniture valuable?

Many vintage Henredon furniture pieces, especially from the 40s-60s, retain considerable value for collectors and designers. Iconic collections like French Provincial style Chateau Hill can sell for several thousand dollars per piece in good vintage condition.

Factors impacting current resale values for vintage Henredon include:

  • Rarity – Unique collections like Bar Harbor Coastal are harder to source and thus more valuable.
  • Design – Pieces in original excellent condition from top Henredon designers like Edward Wormley fetch higher prices.
  • Materials – Mahogany and walnut furnishings are generally more valuable than finishes like paint.
  • Age – Older pieces from the 40s-50s represent the start of Henredon’s vintage era so command higher prices.
  • Craftsmanship – Handmade details like dovetail joinery raises value over mass-produced later pieces.
  • Provenance – Previously owned vintage Henredon pieces endorsed by an auction house verify provenance.

In general, quality vintage Henredon in good condition still carries significant worth for discerning collectors and interior designers seeking stylish furniture with authentic heritage.

How to date Henredon furniture

There are several techniques that can help narrow down an approximate age for an unmarked vintage Henredon furniture piece:

  • Hardware Clues – Note the style of pulls, knobs or hinges. Ornate metal indicates earlier, mid-century modern suggests 60s-70s.
  • Joinery and Finish – Presence of dovetail joints or hand-done distressing points to 40s-50s origin versus later mass production.
  • Style Elements – Design inspirations like French curves signal 50s-60s over 70s straightforward styling.
  • Materials – Use of certain woods aligns with different decades. Ex: teak in 60s or lacquered finishes in the 70s-80s.
  • Labels – Tags like “High Point, NC” help date to years they operated there (1945-1970).
  • Wear and Use Marks – Evidence of light natural aging on finishes helps estimate decades of use.
  • Component Stamps – Dates on drawer glides, felt pads or upholstery provide clues.

Getting an exact year is difficult, but combining these forensic investigation techniques can determine an estimated decade for vintage Henredon pieces. Consulting an appraiser may provide more precision in dating unmarked items.

In Summary: Tips for Authenticating Henredon

When evaluating a potential piece of Henredon, scrutinize it thoroughly, as the vintage furniture market contains countless knock-offs. Seek out these key indicators to ensure authenticity:

  • Check every possible surface for any manufacturer labels, stamps, tags or markings. This provides the strongest proof and first step in authentication.
  • Examine the style closely and get to know Henredon’s characteristic designs from different eras like French Provincial or English inspirations.
  • Note what materials are used like solid woods, hand-woven rattan and marble to identify construction methods of the time.
  • Verify craftsmanship details like joinery, hand hammer marks, and other indications of vintage fabrication.
  • Look for subtle signs of legitimate age like small repairs, lightly worn finishes, and surface scratches.

While the Henredon name does not automatically confer antique value, identifying authentic vintage pieces by verifying these details helps ensure acquiring quality furniture that will last. Understanding what defines true vintage Henredon construction allows buyers to avoid costly reproduction mistakes. Whether you seek rare collections like Chateau Hill or simply admire good craftsmanship, use these tips to smartly navigate your search for these iconic vintage furniture finds.