Rare Old Hickory Daybed


Old Hickory daybed

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.

hickory hoop arm chair

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.

Old Hickory dresser

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.

Old Hickory daybed
Old Hickory Daybed dimensions: 74″ wide, 27″ deep, 33″ high back, 17″ high seat

This daybed appears in the 1942 catalog titled “Old Hickory Furniture by Old Hickory of Martinsville.”

Old Hickory 1942 catalog

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.

Old Hickory daybed weaving

The back can be set at two angles by placing the rope loops around either of two side pegs.

Old Hickory daybed
Old Hickory daybed
The ropes are set around first peg to hold the back upright.
Old Hickory daybed.
The ropes are set around the second peg to make the back more angled.

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.

Old Hickory daybed
Daybed with the back down, seen from the front.
Old Hickory daybed
Daybed with the back down, seen from the back.
Old Hickory daybed
The daybed’s previous owner had a faux leather pad made for the bench.

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.

Old Hickory daybed