EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ETHAN ALLEN FURNITURE
When you consider that Ethan Allen Furniture pulls its name from a Revolutionary War hero, it really comes as no surprise that Ethan Allen ranks among America’s most-loved furniture brands. Founded in 1932, Ethan Allen has spent the past almost-century crafting traditional furniture that pays tribute to Early American design.
Early on, collections like Circa 1776 and Canterbury Oak paved the way for Ethan Allen, cementing them as a leading authority in traditional design. Even when traditional design began to fall out of favor in the late 1990s, Ethan Allen persevered. They created new designs that paid tribute to their history while striking more modern notes. Today, vintage Ethan Allen furniture, like Henredon is a first-stop for buyers who skew towards tradition, but don’t necessarily want a legit antique. Designed with modern function in mind, Ethan Allen furniture takes contemporary needs and combines them with classic form. Love Ethan Allen furniture as much as us? If so, read on to learn how to identify vintage Ethan Allen furniture and more!
ETHAN ALLEN ICON COLLECTION: CIRCA 1776
By the middle of the 1960s, the Ethan Allen catalog contained nearly 1,600 pieces, including Ethan Allen sofas, Ethan Allen dining tables, and Ethan Allen dressers. Included in those 1,600 pieces was the Circa 1776 collection. Crafted from warm, amber-tone maple wood, the Circa 1776 collection effortlessly combined function (roomy drawers, drop leaf table surfaces) with days-gone-by design (cabriole legs, spindle posters, Windsor chair backs). Whether you were in the market for an Ethan Allen bed or Ethan Allen console, the Circa 1776 collection had you covered. Perhaps most remarkable about the Circa 1776 collection, however, was its sheer breadth. While competitors would release four to five-piece capsule collections, Ethan Allen had created a mix-and-match library that few other brands (if any) could compete with. While there’s no denying that the Circa 1776 collection is best suited to antique lovers, those who are on the hunt for Early American revival pieces won't find many better options that Ethan Allen's.
TIPS FOR IDENTIFYING YOUR USED ETHAN ALLEN FURNITURE
Wondering if that Ethan Allen sofa or Ethan Allen desk you’ve been eyeing is the real deal? If the piece in question is an Ethan Allen sofa, it’s more than likely marked with a company stamp on the back or bottom. For Ethan Allen case pieces like dressers and desks, check the drawers—that’s usually where the factory left their mark.
Worth noting is that Ethan Allen did go by some alternative names throughout its history. So if you’re convinced you have a vintage Ethan Allen piece but that name’s not lining up, know that Ethan Allen also went by the names Baumritter Corporation, Green Mountain Holding Corporations, and Interco.
THE HISTORY OF ETHAN ALLEN FURNITURE
In 1932, Ethan Allen founders Theodore Baumritter and Nathan Ancell began selling housewares. Although they got their start at the height of the Great Depression, the duo managed to keep the company afloat by paying close mind to customers' tastes. One of the first things they noted? Cash-strapped buyers preferred to purchase furniture over small home goods. With that in mind, Baumritter and Ancell bought a factory to begin cranking out furniture.
Given that Americans had yet to be introduced to modernism, Baumitter and Ancell elected to design their furniture in the traditionalist style. Adding to their decision was the fact that their factory was headquartered in Beecher Falls, Vermont, an idyllic hamlet of a town with old Americana appeal. For the duo, the decision to capitalize on the American charm of the locale seemed like a no-brainer. Using maple, oak, and cherry, the duo crafted American revivalist furniture that felt fresh to buyers who were beginning to tire of Art Deco. While other furniture designers such as Kittinger would follow in Ethan Allen’s wake, it was Ethan Allen who truly spearheaded that American Revivalist trend. In 1938, the first collection of Ethan Allen furniture debuted.
Throughout the Mid 20th Century, American Revivalist style gained traction and Ethan Allen furniture sales flourished. However, by the 1980s, there were obvious signs that the Founding Fathers look was beginning to wan with customers. In an unprecedented move, Ethan Allen elected to design outside of what had become their signature style. In 1985 Ethan Allen debuted their American Dimensions collection. Comprised of a series of bleached furniture pieces incised with geometric designs, the line completely shook up the notion of what an Ethan Allen bed or Ethan Allen dining table could be. In the 1990s, Ethan Allen stepped out of its comfort zone even further, releasing the Ethan Allen Legacy collection which was Inspired by classic Italian design, and the American Impression collection, which nodded to the Arts and Crafts style that became all the rage in the late 1990s.
These days, Ethan Allen is as much in the game as they’ve ever been. The brand continues to offer one of the most sprawling catalogues in the business. While they’ve moved far beyond their traditional beginnings, the brand continues to exude the American spirit that made them an icon.