Thrift Store for Classic Heywood-Wakefield Furnishings
Shopping at thrift stores, flea markets, and estate sales can be overwhelming. With the sheer volume of stuff, how do you know where to start? How do you spot gems amidst all the junk?
As a professional reseller who has been scouring thrift stores for almost 30 years, I can help. If you’re ready to cut your shopping time in half, snag bigger bargains, or walk away with boastful finds that you can flip for cash, read on.
From hard-to-find household items to resale money-makers, anything featured in my Thrift Shop Like a Pro series qualifies as a BOLO (be on the lookout for) item. If you find it, buy it!
Featured find: Heywood-Wakefield’s Streamline Modern furniture
In the 1930s, Heywood-Wakefield Co. launched a line of affordable, high-quality interior furniture called Streamline Modern. Crafted from either solid maple or northern yellow birch, the sleek new pieces brought the aesthetics of Art Deco and Modernism to middle-class homes across America.
Although the company filed for bankruptcy in the late 1970s, the brand was acquired by South Beach Furniture Co. in the early 1990s. The revived Heywood-Wakefield line of iconic mid-century style furniture is re-established and more popular than ever.
For the discerning buyer, there are still vintage Heywood-Wakefield in the wild. On a recent harvest trip through the Midwest, I was touring an old farmhouse and spotting two dust-covered Heywood Wakefield nightstands. I bought the pair for $60 and flipped them for $400.
Heywood-Wakefield’s Streamline Modern furniture is decidedly mid-century, but not in a trendy or gimmicky way. The pieces stand the test of time because the scale is right, the clean lines complement almost any interior style and the quality is first class.
Heywood-Wakefield is one of the valuable vintage brands mentioned in my 10 Secrets to Finding Quality Secondhand Furniture article. After all, good bones, strong joints, and solid wooden construction just can’t be beat.
The resale market seems to agree. A 1950s Heywood-Wakefield birch desk sold on eBay for $1,400, and a multi-generational pair of end tables fetched $800. This 1940s swivel vanity stool is listed on Etsy for $895.
Pro Type: Don’t miss out on Heywood-Wakefield tunes in rough form. Many furniture refinishers are finding new sources of income by filming the restoration process and sharing videos like this on YouTube.
where to look
By 1949, Heywood-Wakefield used various paper labels to identify their pieces. These labels usually read: “Fine furniture by Heywood-Wakefield, founded 1826, Gardner, Mass.” (The earlier date 1826 refers to the founding of Heywood Brothers, a forerunner of the Heywood-Wakefield Co.)
Furniture made in 1949 or later will feature a logo burned or burned into the wood. Look for a circle enclosing the profile of an eagle. A rectangle across the eagle’s chest contains the name “Heywood-Wakefield” in capital letters.
The mark is on the underside of tables and chairs. On bedside tables, dressers, and desks, look for the brand on the inside of the top drawers, usually on the left side panel.
Heywood-Wakefield pieces are also recognizable by the few finishes used. The company’s standard paints, which are usually light in color, include:
- Amber: a reddish maple color
- Bleached: a light blonde tone
- Wheat: a pale yellow
- Champagne: a pale pink or blush tone
- Platinum: a mixture of blonde and light grey
- Westwood: an almost transparent finish with a subtle honey color
Pro Type: Think you’ve found a piece of Heywood Wakefield furniture but there’s no brand or paper label? Look at the screws. From about 1940 the company used Phillips screws almost exclusively.
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