Much of Modern's character came from the steam-bent pieces . Before the bending started, air dried stock was placed into a steaming box for a period of twenty minutes to an hour. Wood that had the appropriate moisture content was then bent by hand, or pressed and heated using hydraulic presses. (Despite all of Wakefield's skill in working with wood, 10 to 20 percent of all bentwood pieces were broken in the bending process). After being steambent, larger parts were machined and all the parts received their first sanding.
The furniture pieces began to take shape during the assembly process. Joints were glued and screwed; nails were not used at any joints. The insides of all drawers were sprayed with a drawer coater. After the assembly process furniture was sanded in order to blend drawers, tops, and sides together. Following this sanding, Modern pieces were bleached, producing a lighter as well as more uniform wood finish. Next the pieces were spray stained, with any excess stain removed through hand wiping. After pieces were placed in a drying oven, a sanding sealer was applied, and then the pieces further dried. Two coats of finish lacquer were applied, with the finish allowed to bake for approximately one hour. The pieces were then rubbed and waxed. After the pieces had been rubbed, they were wiped dry and polished. The furniture was then given a final inspection and sent to the shipping department for distribution.
The earliest Streamline Modern marking known is the yellow woodgrain style paper label with red print. This label is frequently found in conjunction with the blue and white style number tag made of paper. These labels were placed on the backs or bottoms of the furniture.
The woodgrain label was replaced by the red and blue paper label, which used white print. The exact date the red and blue paper label was adopted is unknown; estimates range from 1939 to no later than 1942.
There were also special emblems placed inside the top drawers on some of the furniture designed by Leo Jiranek and Count Sakhnoffsky. These emblems were made from metal or plastic and displayed the designer's name.
Below are some of the labels the Heywood Wakefield Company would use.
The woodgrain label was used until the late 1930's.
This label is usually seen with the woodgrain label.
The red and blue label was used until the Heywood Wakefield eagle trademark was phased in, beginning in 1946.
Country Store to Modern Furniture:
100 Years of Progress
[Chatting Heywood - Wakefield - history] would not be such a difficult task, if the Company ... manufactured only the wood chairs that the five Heywood brothers began to fashion in a barn adjacent to their father's farm, in Gardner, Massachusetts, U.S.A., back in 1826. - From a 1951 speech by Richard N. Greenwood, former company president.
As noted by Richard N. Greenwood, the birth of Heywood-Wakefield
"Modern" furniture traces its roots back more than a century to
five Heywood brothers-Walter, Levi, Seth, Benjamin and William-who in 1826
began making wooden chairs in a small barn in Gardner, Massachusetts. At
a time when John Quincy Adams was president of only 24 United States and
the country's first railroad tracks were only just beginning to be laid,
Walter Heywood began fashioning chairs largely by hand, with his only "machine"
being a foot lathe. Walter was soon joined in the chairmaking enterprise
by his brothers Levi and Benjamin, who began assisting in the work part-time
while running a nearby country store. The brothers' chair business enjoyed
quick prosperity and they soon built a new shop across the street from the
store, which was disposed of around 1829.
In 1831 Levi Heywood moved to Boston where he established an outlet store to sell the Heywood chairs, while Benjamin and younger brother William remained in Gardner to manufacture the products which gradually evolved from wood-seated to caneseated variations. In 1834 a fire destroyed the Heywood's chair shop (which was not rebuilt), prompting Levi's return to Gardner a year later. To continue chairmaking operations, in 1835 a definitive partnership-B. F. Heywood & Company was formed, initially comprised of Benjamin, Walter and William Heywood, along with Moses Wood and James W. Gates. Upon his return to Gardner, Levi Heywood again became involved in the chair-making business. And it was Levi Heywood, the oldest of the brothers (and the one who would later achieve fame as an inventor and a patentee of chair-making machinery that revolutionized production), along with younger brother Seth and their descendants, who became the predominant figures in the development of the company in the 19th century. In 1835 Levi Heywood guided the company's move to the shores of Crystal Lake in Gardner (where a company factory would remain until the business closed its doors for good more than 140 years later). The fledgling chair-making enterprise purchased a lake-side building equipped for wood-turning and in the process gained its first "real" machinery-turning lathes and a circular saw. Initially an outlet from Crystal Lake provided the company with plenty of power, but eventually the currents of Crystal Lake proved inadequate to drive Heywood's machines and in succeeding years Levi replaced the plant's water power with steam. Levi's insistence on the installation of new machinery dismayed his early partners, who gradually withdrew from the chair-making concern and for a period left Levi the sole Heywood owner. By 1844 a second partnership-Heywood & Woodhad been formed, with Levi and Moses Wood the apparent principal partners. By 1849 Wood's name had disappeared from the company's title-Levi Heywood & Company and in 1851 a new name, Heywood Chair Manufacturing Company, was adopted during the formation of what amounted to a joint stock association.
Below are pictures of the Heywood Wakefield Brothers
Four of the five Heywood Brothers.
No known photograph of Benjamin E. Heywood exist. Family tradition had it that he would never agree to have his picture taken.