Having handled lots of hickory furniture over the years, we’ve seen the majority of furniture forms that are documented either in books or in our collection of vintage hickory furniture company catalogs. While no antique hickory furniture could be called common, some forms appear on the market more frequently than others.
There are several reasons for the differing availability of hickory furniture forms. One is that certain types of furniture, such as hickory hoop arm or “Andrew Jackson” chairs (shown below), were made in every decade of hickory furniture production for over 50 years, and several different hickory furniture manufacturers made nearly identical versions of popular styles.
Another reason is that a greater number of certain forms were produced and sold in a given year reflecting differing demand, for side chairs versus desks, for instance. Finally, some types of furniture such as dressers and other case pieces, have very little market turnover—once they are in a home they tend to stay there, even when the homes themselves (especially summer cottages in remote locations) change hands.
So it is always a bit of a thrill when we find a form that we have never or seldom seen on the market. That is the case with this Old Hickory daybed, which is only the second one that we’ve seen or owned in over 25 years of buying and selling hickory furniture.
This daybed appears in the 1942 catalog titled “Old Hickory Furniture by Old Hickory of Martinsville.”
It was listed as No. 949W “Day Bed With Back” and the description includes the note: “Back is adjusted with ropes.” That pretty well sums up this intriguing piece of furniture. This one is in good vintage condition, retaining its original open-weave rattan cane seat and back.
The back can be set at two angles by placing the rope loops around either of two side pegs.
Taking the ropes off the pegs lowers the hinged back all of the way down so that the daybed can be used as a bench or cot.
With the back down, the 74” wide bench fits perfectly at the foot of a 76” wide king-size bed. It would even be possible to remove the back entirely by unscrewing the hinges, depending on desired usage and placement. In fact, Old Hickory also sold this daybed without a back, listed in the catalog as “No. 949 Day Bed Without Back.”
Versatility was clearly the intent of the Old Hickory designers who created this daybed. Whether piled with throw pillows, outfitted with a seat pad, or used backless as a bench, it is handsome and functional—and also collectible for anyone seeking to acquire uncommon Old Hickory furniture forms.