Dating antique secretary desk

On the underside of the desk is a small brass tag bearing the name Colby’s and a five- digit number. I live in Chicago and there used to be a furniture store by the name of Colby’s, but I don’t know if it dated back that far or if they made furniture. One major manufacturer of kidney shaped items in the 1920s and early 1930s was Widdicomb Furniture Co.

I suppose another option is that Colby’s did not make, but sold the piece and put its label on it. Colby’s was the last name used by a company founded in 1869 by John Colby and Jacob Wirts. of Grand Rapids who made a large variety of European Revival models such as Italian and Venetian.

With this marker and the back stamp numbers, can usually document furniture very well.

I’m wondering if you have any information about a company named Colby’s. Colby’s was mostly a furniture retailer, having closed its factory in the 1920s.

I recently purchased a kidney-shaped desk with beautiful and complicated veneers, inlays and marquetry. It is very possible that Colby’s had a well known manufacturer make these items for them and affix their own label.

Antique furnishings can tell a story one that may only exist in the imagination of the lucky person acquiring the piece.

Some popular antiques are quite well documented and may be tied to a specific time period in history making an age determination quite simple. Adding to the complexity is the proliferation of copycat builders and modern furniture craftsmen who do an admirable job of cloning authentic antique furniture right down to the tool marks and date stamps.


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