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20th century furniture makers’ marks: an antique dealer’s guide

20th century furniture makers’ marks: an antique dealer’s guide


When identifying the age of a piece of antique furniture, people are always advised to look for the maker’s mark, and these can go a long way to ascertaining the age and authenticity of a piece. But what are they, what purpose do they serve for today’s collectors and dealers, and are they all the same?

What is a furniture maker’s mark?

The equivalent of a signature on an antique painting, a maker’s mark on a piece of furniture helps to identify one or more features of the piece. These include the designer or manufacturer, the country of origin, the date, and possibly the number of pieces manufactured in that style or range.

The significance of makers' marks

  • A maker’s mark can identify the designer, make or manufacturer of the piece of furniture. This in turn can inform when or where a piece was made, possibly the model or range name and perhaps even the name of the craftsman who made it.
  • Dating a piece of furniture is important in determining its value and worth, and a maker’s mark can help with this. A lot of maker’s marks have changed over time so the type and style of a maker’s mark can date a piece to a specific period of time.
  • The presence of a maker’s mark can distinguish a genuine piece from a replica or fake item. But, beware the unscrupulous seller who will try to reproduce maker’s marks to attempt to pass a piece off as genuine. It is important therefore to examine marks closely, looking for any missing elements, or differences in font sizes or incorrect dates.

Types of makers' marks

Makers’ marks take many forms, including the following:

  • Ink stamps
  • Handwritten marks
  • Embossed metal tags
  • Labels – paper or plastic
  • Plaques
  • Stencils
  • Branded or carved marks


Where to look for makers’ marks

Makers’ marks are usually easy to find but in a place that will not adversely affect the look or appearance of the piece. They are often on the back or the underside of the furniture or maybe inside a drawer or cupboard. The inside of doors is also a popular place to find them.

Does all antique furniture have a maker’s mark?

Unfortunately not! This could be because the manufacturer chose not to mark the piece or because the mark may not have survived; this is often true of paper labels which may become detached. The absence of an identifiable maker’s mark does not mean the piece is not a genuine antique or vintage piece, it may just make it more difficult to authenticate the furniture’s origins.

Notable vintage furniture manufacturers

There are many designers and manufacturers of mid century furniture that today’s collectors should be aware of, but the following British companies are as popular today as ever, appealing to homeowners and collectors of all ages.

Ercol furniture

Founded by Italian-born Lucian R Ercolani, Ercol was based in High Wycombe and is famous for its range of utility furniture which was practical and easy to produce and which was first exhibited at the 1951 Festival of Britain. Ercol furniture was made from beech and elm which was steam-bent into fluid curves.

G-Plan furniture

Another High Wycombe based manufacturer, G-Plan’s innovative range of furniture was designed for the entire home, comprising pieces that would give a coordinated look for post-war families. They were the first company to display their furniture in room settings, to sell the lifestyle.

Stag furniture

Known for its modern, mass-produced bedroom and dining room furniture ranges, Stag employed leading architects Sylvia and John Reid. Despite being mass produced, Stag’s veneered furniture was durable and affordable to young style seekers in the 50s.

20th century furniture at Hemswell Antique Centres

Our 20th century furniture dealers carefully assess each piece of furniture in order to authenticate it so that you can buy with confidence. From iconic Scandinavian and Norwegian design, to reputable British manufacturers like Ercol and G-Plan, we have a piece of vintage furniture for you.

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