About Heywood Wakefield Furniture

In 1897, two prominent furniture companies, Heywood Brothers (est. 1826) and Wakefield Company (est. 1855) merged to create Heywood Brothers & Wakefield Company; the name would be shortened to Heywood-Wakefield in 1921. The new company rose to particular popularity in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s with its solid wood, Art Deco-inspired mid-century modern furniture

Heywood Wakefield

 had the first patent on

the highly innovative steam bent machines. 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. 

Heywood Wakefeild Straight Bookcase M321_Office

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. 

Heywood Wakefield labels

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.

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.

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, plastic or stamped to display the designer's name after the War.