Friday, October 5, 2012

What a "Wonderfold" world, a nice solid oak 60's desk and a rare 40's Heywood-Wakefield bookcase

I had someone walk in the door awhile back with these Coronet "Wonderfold" chairs made in Jamestown, NY by the Norquist Products company. Tag line "You'd have to be told they fold!" Honestly, if I haden't seen these folded in the car before seeing them opened, I could believe that line!
I'd not seen this particular chair before but I did fall for the great lines if not the great condition. The seller had alluded to doing some research and found similar items on the auction sites with some chunky asking prices. This is the story of my buying life. There's always someone who has done their "research" and has pie in the sky expectations of what I'll offer. Sorry! Even in perfect original condition you want too much. And these were all going to have to be totally rehabbed, floor up, including new upholstery. I did finally end up negotiating these for a price I could live with.

These are very well made pieces of furniture with what appears to be solid oak frames and solid hardware. The frames are going to have to be completely stripped and refinished. Way too far gone for touch up. The original vinyl has way too many knicks and holes to save and I'm going to do in a period correct fabric to add a bit of sophistication to their looks. I may already have a buyer for these as a friend has a nice small Danish Modern dining table that's in need of some matching chairs. More on these in a later post...
Let's move on with a couple of projects that have been pending for a bit. First up is a nice small 60's  desk that someone had offered up as they were moving. It came complete w/matching chair but the desk was what I was interested in! Chair was not so special and it got set aside for another day.
Certainly not the first or last time, I neglected to get any "before" pics before working on this piece. It had taken it's fair share of abuse over the years with the normal water rings and some heavy stains. If this had been a veneered piece I may have passed on picking up even with the nice lines, but upon a close inspection it turned out to be solid wood! Thankfully most all sanded out and here's where we start...

 Naked and ready for some stain and finish, Solid oak all the way through! As always, just another labor of love, we now have in house, although no attribution as to who was the maker. The original finish was stamped as 'wheat' and although this was not a Heywood-Wakefield wheat piece, it was definetely lighter when it came to me.

I think she looks pretty swell in a bit darker finish and would fit with most Danish Modern decors. This is a really nice quality piece of furniture!
 Last up a bit of a change in my normal Heywood-Wakefield repertoire. I was contacted by a potential seller about a house full of H/W that belonged to his mother. As she was going into assisted living, he inqured whether or not I might be interested. As much as I hate to turn down any decent deals on my favorite furniture to refinish, I had to originally take a pass. I explained that the pieces she owned were from the late 30's/early 40's Streamline years and didn't have the collectability of the Modern Line years of the 50's. That and it wasn't in my budget.
Well he ended up calling back and I could just take whatever pieces I thought I could move and compensate him as I sold them. I advised, and he understood, that much of this would have to be refinished and I couldn't promise him a huge return. Here are the first couple of pieces that I managed to get on our floor.

This C3777WX bookcase end desk was designed by Leo Jiranek and manufactured in 1941-42. I'm happy to say that this was in good enough condition so that I only had to clean up and even out some spots on the top. It would have been way too labor intensive to refinish and make anything.
Piece number two was a different story...

This a C2929 enclosed bookcase was manufactured from 1936-38. It looks much better in the first pic than it did in person. Finish was dry and discolored and both doors had closure issues. Reduced to puzzle pieces, it took longer than most pieces as several areas could only be finished one side at a time. It was worth the time and effort as everyone loves bookcases.

All dressed up in her pretty new "champagne" clothes and ready for some appreciative suitor to take her home!
Hopefully next post will feature our Wonderfold chairs in their rehabbed beauty and maybe some H/W dining chairs from 1936 designed by Gilbert Rhode.



  1. So many beautiful pieces...That desk knocks my socks off! Can't wait to see what you do with the folding chairs!

    1. Thanks Dana, The desk turned out better than expected and I'm hoping the folding chairs will as well. I stained tonight and hope to have done in a couple of days, weather permitting!

  2. The book shelf is super sweet. I think I saw the chairs on Mr. Modtomic in a very recent post.. I had no idea they folded. He saw them in Chicago.

  3. Thanks Rebecca, It was a rare find and I don't think many pieces from the 40's have survived despite the quality.

  4. I have only just recently been enlightened about the Haywood Wakefield name...and love what I see! I love what you did to all of them, especially the desk, wow!

    I am now following you and hope you come by my brand new blog dedicated to vintage, The Pink Geranium, I would love some new followers!

  5. Oops, I thought I left a message, I hope I am not repeating myself!

    I cant believe how the pieces changed from before and after, wow!

    Please come by my brand new dedicated to vintage blog, called the Pink Geranium, I am your newest follower!