Stickley John Widdicomb Collection

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Furniture catalog for the John Widdicomb Collection by Stickley

Text of Stickley John Widdicomb Collection

  • reating high quality,

    hand-decorated pieces

    since 1858.

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  • The John Widdicomb Company is steeped in history and tradition. It is breathtaking in itsbeauty, solid in its foundation and legendary in its enduring legacy. It begins in 1845 inDevonshire, England, meanders through Syracuse, New York, settles in Grand Rapids,Michigan and in 2000 returns to its first American home in Syracuse, New York.

    Widdicomb Timeline

    1858 1863 1865

    George Widdicomb settles inGrand Rapids, Michigan. He setsup a small cabinet shop with hisfour sons: George Widdicomb & Sons.

    All four of Georges sons enlist in the Union Army, putting the furniture business on hiatus during the last years of the Civil War.

    The Widdicomb boys return from duty in the Union Army toform a new furniture shop. The Widdicomb FurnitureCompany quickly gains a reputation as one of GrandRapids finest furniture makers.




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    1845 1857

    Furniture maker GeorgeWiddicomb emigrates fromDevonshire, England and sets up a cabinet shop in Syracuse, N.Y.

    When in 1845 George Widdicomb left Devonshire, England he setup a cabinet shop in Syracuse NY where his fourth son, JohnWiddicomb was born. The family lived and worked in Syracuse andthe Central NY area until 1857 when they slowly moved westward,settling in Grand Rapids, Michigan. George gathered togethertwelve craftsmen and set up a small cabinet shop which prosperedfrom the start. His English training was different from the frontiertraining of the average small town cabinetmaker and his well madefurniture found a ready market. The name of that company wasGeorge Widdicomb and Sons. The outbreak of the Civil War put asudden end to the new enterprise, when the entire work forceincluding his four sons joined the Union army.

    In 1867, with one brother lost in the war, the company reopenedas Widdicomb Brothers and Richards. In 1873 the companyincorporated as Widdicomb Furniture Company, a manufacturerof inexpensive bedroom furniture. After successfully bringing thecompany through the turbulent financial crisis of 1893, John leftthis company to form his own. Meanwhile, the Widdicomb FurnitureCompany under the leadership of Johns older brother William,continued through the turn of the century making period style SanDomingo (Haitian) Mahogany and Tabasco (Mexican) Mahogany

    wood bedroom furniture. The company introduced its first modernpieces in 1928, and by 1938 had ceased all production of traditionaland revival styles. Lines designed in the 1940s and 1950s by T. H.Robsjohn Gibbings and George Nakashima made WiddicombFurniture Company an important producer of Mid CenturyModern furniture.

    Ralph Widdicombe, a nephew of John, had earlier become interestedin the designing of fine furniture, and when his uncle branched outfor himself, Ralph joined him. For fifty-three years until his retirement in 1951, all John Widdicomb Company Furniture wasdesigned by Ralph Widdicombe, known as the Dean of furnituredesigners. Ralph Widdicombe always retained the old English spellingof his name ending with the e.

    Although Ralph Widdicombe will always be remembered best for hisclassical designs, he was awarded first prize for his Modern bedroomsuite at the Paris Exposition in 1900. In 1924, working from modelshe had procured in Europe, Ralph Widdicombe introduced Louis XVProvincial designs, which were the first of their kind to be made in thiscountry, and started the wave of popularity for French Provincial thatstill continues.

  • 31894, 1896 1897 1900 1924

    John Widdicomb establisheshis own company, the JohnWiddicomb Company, makinginterior woodwork andfireplace mantels.

    Ralph Widdicombe, JohnWiddicombs primary designer,is awarded a gold medal at theParis Exposition for his modernebedroom suite. Ralph eventuallybecomes known as the Dean ofFurniture Design.

    John Widdicomb Companyintroduces its Louis XV Provincialdesigns. The collection isrecognized for creating a wave ofpopularity for French Provincialfurniture that continues today.

    The Widdicomb FurnitureCompany joins Stickley BrothersFurniture Company to open afurniture storehouse in London.Albert Stickley and JohnWiddicomb travel togetherthroughout Britain andContinental Europe looking fornew furniture ideas.

  • 4The John Widdicomb Company was instrumental in the creation of the the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers Guild. The AmericanFurniture Market had been held in Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1878 and The Grand Rapids Furniture Guild and its related companies were leaders in the American furnituremanufacturing industry.

    John Stuart joined the company as Director and Sales Manager in 1929. He later became General Manager and Vice President and in 1943 he was named President of John Widdicomb. Shortly afterJohn Stuart, Inc. was formed. It appears it had been a separate company that ran the designer showroom in New York and later inPhiladelphia. In 1964 John Stuart, Inc. and John Widdicomb collaborated in the building and opening of a 23 room showroom inthe D&D Building in New York.

    The Widdicomb name, which had been shared by two manufacturerssince John left his father in 1897, was brought together again in1970 when the John Widdicomb Company purchased the nameand goodwill of the Widdicomb Furniture Company, the latterhaving ceased production several years previously.

    Gerald R. Ford of Grand Rapids became president of the UnitedStates of America in 1974. That year the John Widdicomb Companywas purchased by Hickory Furniture who later sold it in 1986 to aninvestment group called Widdicomb Associates. This era witnessedthe introduction of a new collection of English furniture designed bythe internationally renowned designer, Mario Buatta.

    Once more the John Widdicomb Company was sold in 1996 to theGrand Rapids Furniture Company and Jim Devries became chairman.

    1924 1951 1970 2002

    Ralph Widdicombe, Dean ofFurniture Designers, retires after 53 years as the primarydesigner of John WiddicombCompany furniture.

    The Widdicomb FurnitureCompany is purchased by JohnWiddicomb Company, unitingthe Widdicomb name underone organization for the first timein 73 years.

    L. & J.G. Stickley purchased theassets of the John WiddicombCompany and moved productionof this product to their state ofthe art manufacturing plant inManlius, New York.

    The 1990s brought many changes including the launching of a newcompany Bexley Heath, Ltd. which was absorbed by JohnWiddicomb in 1998. The John Widdicomb Company manufacturingoperations and offices were moved to the newly renovated GrandRapids furniture campus at 560 Fifth Street, the former Widdicombplant. It was also in 1998 that the John Widdicomb company signedan exclusive licensing agreement with the Victoria & AlbertMuseum in London, England. The Victoria & Albert Museum is thelargest museum of the decorative arts in the world.

    In May of 2002, The John Widdicomb Company closed its GrandRapids doors and a new chapter in the history of this revered companybegan. L. & J.G. Stickley, Inc. purchased the assets of JohnWiddicomb Company furniture and moved its production to theirstate of the art factory in Manlius, New York under the ownership ofMr. and Mrs. Alfred and Aminy Audi.

    The John Widdicomb line includes nearly one hundred French,Italian, English, and Russian reproductions, as well as a broad rangeof pieces from the Moderne tradition of the early 20th century, all ofwhich are crafted in limited quantities and in the tradition of highestquality for which the Widdicomb name has been internationallyknown for over one hundred forty-five years.

    John Widdicomb furniture is available through fine retail showroomsworld wide, and to interior designers through design showrooms inmajor cities in the United States.


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    John Widdicomb Companyintroduces its Louis XV Provincialdesigns. The collection isrecognized for creating a wave ofpopularity for French Provincialfurniture that continues today.

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  • 8Opposite:JW-5583 Russian China Top, JW-5582 Russian Credenza

    photograph pages 6-7:JW-5972 Lyre Back Arm Chair, JW-5971 Lyre Back Side Chair, JW-5991 Cheshire Double Pedestal Dining Table

    Its splendor evidences the fusion of English forms and a deeply ingrained feeling of the principles of national art. The composition is particularly remarkablefor its compound serpentine configuration, and its sumptuous patterns of veneers and inlays. The top is resplendent with walnut book-matched veneers

    and crossbanding; oval inlays of maple and tulip wood, framed by walnut benchwork. Embellished doors, ebony inlays accentuate the posts and aninlaid holly and ebony medallion emblazons the raised pane on the center drawer. Similarly noteworthy are the cove-shaped top edge, contrasting

    brass Greco-Roman lion mask ring pulls and tapered quadrangular feet. The piece features three drawers, with aPacific Silvercloth insert in the center drawer, four doors and an adjustable wood shelf in each compartment.

    JW-5583Russian China Top 78 W x 20 D x 51 H

    JW-5582 Russian Credenza 78 W x 20 D x 37 HTop has book-matched French Walnut veneers and crossbanding. Doors feature oval inlays ofmaple and tulip wood, framed by walnut benchwork.

    The form of this serpentine credenza was taken from the dressing room table used byCatherine the Great of Russia.


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    Opposite:JW-7064 Queen Anne Baroque Side Chair, JW-7065 Queen Anne Baroque Arm Chair, JW-7191 Georgian Dining Table,JW-5582 Russian Credenza, JW-1732 Neoclassical Etagere

    JW-5590Russian Chin