YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO VINTAGE ETHAN ALLEN FURNITURE
Chances are that if you’re a traditionalist, you’re already in close confidence (or at least passing acquaintance) with vintage Ethan Allen furniture. An almost century-old furniture maker with a serious aptitude for getting their history straight (their moniker stems from a Revolutionary war hero, after all), Ethan Allen has been producing quality, American-made furniture since 1932.
Historically, Ethan Allen furniture has been associated with tradition, as the company relied heavily on Early American revivalist influences throughout the Mid 20th-Century. Collections known brilliantly by names like Circa 1776 and Canterbury Oak led the way, cementing Ethan Allen's image of an American icon. But by the 1990s, tastes had changed, and the company became pressed to prove it could rebrand itself as a contemporary master without losing its cultivated edge. Need we even say that they saw, came, and conquered?
Today, vintage Ethan Allen furniture, like Kittinger, is a go-to for those who harbor a sweet spot for the Early American style, but desire something that isn't too stuffy or precious, either. Think of vintage Ethan Allen furniture as furniture you’d find in a prep school’s headmaster’s office, or Jackie Kennedy’s White House, but without the don’t touch disclaimer. It’s classic, accessible furniture that encourages use, not museum-like admiration. Hence the reason why we consider vintage Ethan Allen furniture a legitimate national treasure.
Harbor a flame for this Rev-worthy design hero like us? If so, read on to learn how to identify vintage Ethan Allen furniture and more!
ICONIC COLLECTION: CIRCA 1776
In the mid-1960s, Ethan Allen possessed a whopping 1,600-piece line of Early American furniture. Among those 1,600 pieces was the Circa 1776 line, a collection of colonial furniture rendered in show-stopping maple. The pieces, which sacrificed no amount of function, harked back to the era of the founding patriots, with spindle back Windsor chairs, Chippendale-style dressers, canopy beds, and drop-leaf tables taking center stage. Featuring furniture for virtually every room of the house, the Circa 1776 Collection was indicative not only of Ethan Allen’s fearless rejection of Mid-Century trends, but their ability to create a world of furniture rather than just a collection. No, the pieces from this collection aren’t for the faint of heart. The used Ethan Allen furniture from this collection is unabashedly traditional, but if nostalgia is your note, you can’t do better than these Americana-inspired pieces.
TIPS FOR IDENTIFYING YOUR USED ETHAN ALLEN FURNITURE
Want to know if your used Ethan Allen furniture is the real deal? When it comes to used Ethan Allen pieces like vintage Ethan Allen sofas, a company stamp can usually be found on the back or bottom. Ethan Allen bedroom sets and case pieces, however, are more likely to feature a company stamp in one of the drawers, so be sure to crack those if needed.
As Ethan Allen did go through multiple incarnations before becoming the name brand we know today, don’t be surprised if your suspected vintage Ethan Allen furniture bears a stamp other than Ethan Allen. Names that are synonymous with Ethan Allen include Baumritter Corporation, Green Mountain Holding Corporations, and Interco.
(A BRIEF) HISTORY OF ETHAN ALLEN
Founded in 1932 by Theodore Baumritter and Nathan Ancell, Ethan Allen began as a housewares retailer. While the Great Depression provided a less than welcoming climate for the duo, they managed to keep the business chugging by adapting to their consumer’s tastes. Upon realizing that buyers with a pinched penny preferred substantial furniture over small housewares, they bought a furniture factory to quickly assemble the goods.
So what inspired them to go traditional? Well, for one, their original furniture factory was located in Beecher Falls, Vermont, and the duo fell hard for their history-laden surrounds. Inspired, Baumritter and Ancell felt compelled to emulate the area’s colonial tones in their furniture collections using a repeated roster of cherry, maple, and oak. Americans, who up until then had been inundated with Deco, found the Early American reboot to be fresh and unexpected. And although designers like Kittinger would soon follow, Ethan Allen can be rightfully credited as one of the trailblazers of the movement. True to what would become their signature, in 1938, Ethan Allen released its first collection—a 28-piece set of Early American furniture.
While American traditionalism gained steam in the 1960s and 70s, by the 80s it was clear that demand for the Martha Washington look was cooling. Rather than resting on their laurels, however, Ethan Allen responded with a shake-up. In 1985 they released the American Dimensions collection, which featured pastel-light woods and geometric accents, and with the country craze cresting, they also served forth the rustic Country Crossings collection. The 90s brought even further changes, with 1991 marking the release of the Ethan Allen Legacy collection, which borrowed from Italian architecture, and the American Impressions collection, which was composed of straight-lined furniture that footnoted both Shaker and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arts and Crafts styles. Intrigued? Browse Chairish and you'll find used Ethan Allen furniture from all of these collections and more.
Today, Ethan Allen is keeping the ball rolling with classic, cool-lined furniture that exudes true American spirit. But vintage Ethan Allen furniture? Well, that will always hold our heart.