John Wanamaker furniture
John Wanamaker furniture is furniture retailed by the Wanamaker department store.
Background and Description
Wanamaker’s department store was the first department store in Philadelphia. John Wanamaker founded his first store in 1861 along with his brother in law. The first Wanamaker’s Grand Depot opened in 1876, an gradually expanded from this point. The Philadelphia branch was opened in 1910, with 12 floors, plus numerous galleries and lower levels.
Specific to furniture, Wanamaker’s sold articles made by a number of independent manufacturers, in a wide variety of styles, and for various purposes.
John Wanamaker died in 1922.
Collecting and value
Each piece of Wanamaker furniture may be signed ‘John Wanamaker’, but the man himself did not manufacture a single item. They were all made by independent manufacturers and thus today must be appraised individually. They can therefore be of greatly differing value. Generally, people will collect furniture due to the maker rather than the retailer.
As Wanamaker’s was a high-end department store, the quality of the pieces should usually be quite high. However, the Wanamaker label gives no guarantee as the wide variety of furniture makers were not producing standardised pieces. Each piece much be evaluated on its own merit and if possible, the individual manufacturer found out. Pieces describing themselves as ‘John Wanamaker furniture’ have sold on eBay for between $200 and $500. This is not to say items cannot be worth less or more. An early 20th century Rustic Hickory drop-leaf table retailed by John Wanamaker, Philadelphia, sold at a Brunk Auction for $2,100 in 2006. A Hollywood Regency Style Cabinet retailed by Wanamaker’s sold at a Philadelphia estate auction for $50 in 2012. Pieces can fetch more when the manufacturer can be ascertained.
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