Vintage Ercol Furniture
Vintage Ercol Furniture is collectible furniture produced by the English 20th century furniture manufacturer Ercol.
Ercol furniture traces its roots from High Wycombe in the 1920s. The town was then reputed as England's chairmaking capital. A young furniture designer named Lucian Ercolani established his business there and became known for his technique of bending wood through the use of steam. This became one of Ercolani's trademarks. He is also credited for “taming” the English elm. Although noted for its beautiful grains, most wood craftsmen would refuse to work on this hardwood.
In 1944, Lucian Ercolani got his big break when he was commissioned by the government to create a design for 100,000 chairs on a low budget. This goal was achieved through the Windsor Chair, a furniture piece that is economical, sturdy, and modern-looking.
The English elm wasn't considered a furniture maker's friend. Through a new process of kiln-drying the timber using steam, elm became Ercolani's material of choice. This new material gave Ercolani’s furniture its contemporary appearance.
Ercolani included his work in exhibitions and trade fairs such as the the “Festival of Britain” held in 1951. Using designs based on the Windsor Chair, his other furniture pieces brought him more fame and success.
In the 21st Century, the business remains under the control of Ercolani's family. A modern glass-and-steel workshop, completed in 2008 in Southern England, continues to manufacture Ercol furniture, one of the best-selling brands of the 1950s and 1960s. At present, it continues to enjoy a loyal following.
Guide for Collectors
Whether new or used, Ercol furniture remains popular, a fact which can be gleaned from the numerous online sites catering to buyers and sellers. eBay is recommended for the broad range of items as well as best pricing for vintage Ercol furniture. The company website, Ercol.com also offers reissues of the same models though they are produced in a limited quantity.
The butterfly chair is the company’s most sought furniture piece followed by the stackable chair. The 1958 version of the butterfly chair is a must have for style and comfort. According to the company website, a reissued version would cost £395.
The Ercol stackable chair has been described as sculpture-like. In fact, an installation artist Martin Gampero used the chair for an exhibition piece. Originally made in 1958, a reissue of this simple but very functional piece is available on the Ercol website for £250.
The Ercol Windsor chair, an original furniture piece that gave Lucian Ercolani distinction, is also popular among collectors. The design is a marriage of High Wycombe tradition and contemporary techniques and material.
The Ercol Love Seat from the 1950s is another popular piece. It is an extension of the Windsor style.
A 1962 day bed/sofa was sold for £642.77 after being auctioned on eBay. Bidding for the set that also included two chairs ended on December 9, 2011.
An elm Windsor dining table with four chairs made in the ‘60s was auctioned off through eBay. It was sold to the final bidder at £360 on December 10, 2011.
A pair of Ercol rocking chairs were sold for £110 by Cameo Fine Art Auctioneers on May 6, 2004.
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