1952 Willett maple furniture

1952-willett-furnitureI‘M FASCINATED by the midcentury midwest furniture companies. I have this suspicion they were more interested in quality than transient styling. Willett was based in Indiana, and they made some really nice stuff. With real wood. My guy Royal Barry Wills also designed a line of furniture for them…. This Willett ad is from 1952…the 40s period was coming to an end…recall, 1953 started The Fifties. Can’t you just imagine how proud a family was when they bought this furniture? The sofa — it’s such a classic. And it was not cheap: $495. That’s $4,014 today!

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.



  1. says

    I’m quite curious about your comment: “recall, 1953 started The Fifties.” I’d be interested in reading a post(s?) about this theory!

  2. Femme1 says

    Southern Indiana with its hardwood forests was (actually still is) home to many furniture companies. Showers Brothers operated from the 1860s until the 1950s, the Kendall Piano Co. was here, Batesville Casket Co., and Willett, as you mentioned. Another very early factory was the Orinoco Furniture Co. (makers of the Lincoln chair), Unpeeled hickory furniture is still made in Shelbyville, too.

    Luckily there is still a small area of virgin forest not far from where I live, so not all of the oldest hardwoods were cut down!

  3. Elaine says

    I have a bench that is the same style and black and gold paint as that armchair in the upper left corner. Those were popular for the porches on MCM colonials. I actually bought that one for my porch (garage sale find in 1990) but have not yet put it out there. It lives in my bedroom now. I just love it.

  4. sumac sue says

    Love this style of furniture. It’s what my mom and dad purchased back around 1959/60, but I don’t know the brand — I’ll have to ask her. The upholstered pieces are long gone, but Mom still uses the coffee table, end tables, a drum table, hutch, and dining table and chairs, all in solid maple in a “colonial” style. The dining table is round, and it seemed like we were the only family with a round table. It’s great for meals and for game playing. It’s all good quality, which made me wonder recently — how in the world did my parents pay for it all back then, since Mom didn’t work at that time, and dad wasn’t making much as an assistant editor at a small-town newspaper. I asked, and Mom said they made payments on it forever. I guess it was worth it, since it’s had a lot of use for 50 years.

  5. David Conwill says

    I’m also interested in the fifties-began-in-’53 comment. I’m assuming this means aesthetics, as I think prevailing opinion is that the “fifties” began in 1947 when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier and ended in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated – but that’s from a sociological perspective.

  6. M. Campbell says

    I am looking for images of sofas like my Willett golden beryl and the accompanying chair in living room settings. I think I know how to accessorize the pieces, but have not yet turned up any leads. It looks to be a transitional style, but I’m not sure. Any help is appreciated. :-)

    • Linda Marker says

      I have a Wilett Golden Beryl Solid Maple (Reg US Pat Off) table measuring about 38″ wide by 22″ deep and 17 1/2 tall. The underside is an obvious gorgeous wood and quality craftsmanship. I’m trying to figure out if it is a coffee table or a play table for a child’s room as it is painted a deep dark royal blue, with a Teddy bear painted in the center with the entire table top outlined at the edge with the alphabet and numbers. I have this urge to refinish it to the gorgeous maple I see underneath but don’t want to do something stupid. Any ideas?

  7. says

    In response to Femme1…Orinoco Furniture Company were NOT makers of the Lincoln chair. There was a company called Lincoln Chair Company in Columbus, Indiana, along with the Orinoco Furniture Company, but “the” Lincoln chair was not made by them. A “Lincoln chair” is a chair style that was designed for Abraham Lincoln.

  8. Hoosier Historian says

    The U.S. Lincoln Chair Company was named after the owner, William H. Lincoln, who started his career working at the Orinoco Furniture Company. He opened the Lincoln manufacturing plant in 1913, near Orinoco, making dining, den and living room furniture, in addition to chairs. The companies were merged in 1935, so for a short time they did produce the same items.

    • says

      Lincoln Chair Company was not EVER called the U. S. Lincoln Chair Company. They did not manufacture a chair called the “Lincoln chair”. Wm. H. Lincoln was my great grandfather, so I think I know more about this subject than “Hoosier Historian” does.

      The Lincoln Chair building was built in 1913. It was actually the WEST end of the United Way Agency complex that burned on Christmas Eve, 2009.

      Please visit my web site to get your facts straight. I have done much research so that I could have a historical marker placed at the site of the Orinoco building. This marker also includes information about the Lincoln Chair Company. Both companies were headed up by my great grandfather, Wm. Harvey Lincoln, and then by my grandfather, Wm. Lucas Lincoln after the death of my great grandfather.

      Thank you.

  9. Charles Bushong says

    The Lincoln Chair Company was started in 1913 In the east end of the building that housed the United Way and other helpful organizations. The building was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve, 2009. As of Jan. 16, 2010, the building still stands but is ruined.

  10. Doris Gardner says

    The Consider H. Willett Company was based in Louisville Kentucky, and made furniture from the 1930’s until 1962.

  11. Bill Brown says

    My Grandfather, John Curran Brown was a fine furniture craftsman and wood carver living in Evansville, Henderson, and Louisville,KY. He worked most of his life in furniture and lumber companies. His last job in the furniture business was at the Consider H. Willett Furniture Company in Louisville, Kentucky. He was injured there in the early thirties and went back to Henderson, Ky. where he lived until his death in 1947. I have been researching him and his life for the last ten years and visited the site of Consider H. Willett former factory in Louisville with my Father in the 1980’s and the building was still intact and had the name on the side of the building. I would love to come across a piece of furniture that John C. Brown helped to make, but alas that is impossible today for most of the pieces are in collectors hands from that time period. Bill Brown, Southern Son in the North

    • Pat McGrath says

      I inherited a Willett maple dining table with four chairs, small side table with drop leaves, and china hutch. Has been in my possession and use for forty years and still in great condition. I just recently retired and decided to investigate the history of these pieces and came across your post. I live in North Carolina, but this furniture has traveled from Kentucky to Pennsylvania to Florida to North Carolina. Absolutely love my pieces.

    • Annie says

      My ex-husband had a Willett bedroom set from the 1950’s in Chicago. I kept the dresser, mirror and secretary and still have it. Just discovered recently the value of this furniture. Unfortunately, my ex sold the bed frame, headboard and footboard, and the end table. I was going to sell it but upon seeing the value and workmanship, I have decided to keep it. I will check to see if their is any name on the pieces as to who personally work on it.


  12. darral voorhees says

    recently bought large dining room table with slide out leaves, 6 chairs. This is willett furniture. curious of value.

  13. Mike Heys says

    I loved the information and pictures of the Willett furniture. I have a Willett secretary in Maple. It is very well made. If you know where I may find one of the metal pulls for the desk support please let me know. One of mine is worn out and I cannot find a replacement anywhere.

  14. Ann says

    Recently bought a house with Willett kitchen cabinets, still in wonderful condition. so I’m looking for the original pull hardware also, I’ve tried Vandykes.com but not sure what I’m looking for.

  15. Jennifer Hill says

    you can find Willett pieces , with the the famous handrubbed 7 layer finish, in both cherry and maple. There are about a dozen on ebay right now. Also quite a few on Craig’s Lists around the country, esp the Midwest and Florida. Right now , there are 2 pieces on the Raleigh NC craig’s list. Do not ever refinish the pieces….they have a famous deep finish that cannot be replicated….7 layer, handrubbed with special ingredients. Do not refinish them, not only does it take off the lovely deep finish, but it ruins the value. My parents have their house full of Willett that they bought in the 50’s, and I have been buying the same myself from ebay and craig’s list. it is beautiful.

    It is NOT all in the hands of “collectors”….it is very affordable and available via ebay, craigs list, and antique dealers in mid KY, where the Willett factoy was located.

    There are NO replacement knobs, ie ones made by Willett. The orginal ones are it, so hang on to them. THis is from a Willett collector and restorer, Bob Cairns in Harrodsburg KY. He CAN duplicate the Willett finish but he is the only one I have ever heard of. He is a great restorer. Old KY Restorations, is the name of his place. He has catalogs and is very knowlegeable about Willett.

    I love what I have, and love my parent’s Willett’s pieces. Nice to see this on your site, Pam!!

        • J. Earl Strawder says

          I saw a Willett Transitional set with a table, 4 chairs and 2 leaves. The table measured about 42 inches in diameter. The set is in excellent condition. I took pictures and can email or text them to you. The set is in Mississippi.

          • Karl Darr says

            Yes! I am in Memphis for a few day and would love to look and maybe purchase. If you can send pics and phone number would be very appreciated!
            Karl Darr

            • J. Earl Strawder says

              I text some pictures to you on the Willett Transitional set I saw. I don’t know if that is the set you are looking for.

              • J. Earl Strawder says

                Were you able to inquire about the Willett Transitional table in Ridgeland, Mississippi? I believe I stated that the chairs are Trans East and the table is Transitional.

    • Jennifer Hill says

      What is the style ? And is it maple or cherry or walnut? All of that affects the value. The most important factor, however, is if it still has the original finish. If it has been re-done , it greatly lessens the value. If you look at the Willet stamped signature , the style name is usually stamped below it…..

  16. Peggy Davis says

    I have a Willett drop leaf Maple table with 6 ladder back paper weave chairs, plus a hutch (that’s what I call it – shelves with 3 drawers and double doors below). They have been in my husbands family for more than 30 years but I don’t know the history prior to that. Any market for Maple?

  17. stacey says

    I have a Willett Golden Beryl drop leaf dining table with 3 leafs. It was my mothers and I am about to refinish it as it has been abused. I am curious of the value before I do the strippiing. I do not have the chairs.

  18. Kris says

    I have a cherry Willett dining table and chairs. The surface of the table has been damaged with scratches and heat. What can I do to repair this? Also the chair seats have lost their springiness even thought the springs are still there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *