On the hunt for Ercol furniture
‘How To Hunt Vintage Furniture’ – Guide of the Week
The first in a series of blog posts detailing some of the tell-tale signs every vintage and antique lover should keep their eye on when hunting for the best hand-curated items. This week, we’re “on the hunt” for Ercol furniture….
When you think of ‘mid-century’ design – in particular the post-war 1950s through to the ‘60s – few classic brands epitomize the mood and feel of the period better than Ercol: a quintessentially British design classic that exudes quality and nostalgia.
Founded in 1920s London as “Furniture Industries” by the Italian émigré designer Lucian Ercolani, the company’s claim to fame began during the Second World War when it was hired to manufacture 100,000 Windsor kitchen chairs for the Board of Trade’s Government’s Utility Scheme. In the late-1940s, Ercolani rolled out his mass-produced Ercol furniture for the first time and went on to become an iconic household name in post-war Britain.
Combining the retro-appeal of traditional Windsor chairs (i.e. stick-backed seats, turned spindles) with the splayed legs and organic fashion of modern design aesthetics, Ercol’s elegantly designed furniture displayed a mastery over wood-crafting – with its trademark blend of elm and beech – which soon made the company a mass-marketing phenomenon. While many of their erstwhile competitors (big-players in 1950s – 1960s furniture manufacturing like G-Plan and Parker Knoll) persist today as mere brand names, Ercol remains both a family-owned business and a leading contemporary UK furniture brand, with distribution of its products continuing to be made through department stores such as John Lewis.
How to identify Ercol Furniture
To be sure that the item you’re considering for purchase is authentic, a signal marker of the earliest Ercol pieces (from a date of manufacture circa. early 1950s – mid 1970s) is the characteristic blue-and-silver Ercol label, which is typically small and square. If the label is instead a circular gold print, this likely indicates that it is from the late 1970s – early 1990s.
As mentioned before, classic Ercol pieces from the Windsor range in the post-war era were renowned for their trademark mixture of elm (for solid seats including rocking chairs, dining chairs, sideboards, tabletops) and beech (which was utilised for everything other than solid seats), making these woods important signifiers of Ercol manufacturing and craftsmanship. The distinctive wedged-through-seat legs and a circular motif with a line through the centre that can be discerned on chair seats, tabletops and even armrests, are other notable signifiers of authenticity.
Start the Hunt for Classic Ercol Furniture Styles
Now that you’ve learned the basics on how to spot a piece of classic Ercol furniture, we invite you to browse our Ercol furniture collection and Hunt Vintage.
Note: The stunning Ercol Grand Sideboard c1960s featured in the image above is also available for sale now.