how to identify vintage wicker furniture

So you’ve probably been wondering how to identify vintage wicker furniture and you thought the best place to look would be the internet.

Well, you’re right!

In this article, I’ll be teaching you how to identify genuine, vintage wicker furniture. Wicker furniture is best known for its beautifully woven and unique designs.

This furniture type has been around for centuries (at least in Egypt and other Md-Eastern countries), but it was not until the Victorian era that its popularity skyrocketed.

Fast forward to the modern era, wicker furniture is still being used today.

Some certain points or areas would be needed when checking if wicker furniture is antique or vintage. These areas are; The Design, The crafting, and a whole lot more

What is Wicker Furniture?

the wicker funriture

A lot of people think Wicker is the material used in furniture making, but that’s not true!.

The word wicker is simply a weaving style (It’s not a material, but a weaving style). It is one of the oldest methods of furniture making, originally dating back over 5000 years ago.

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Now get this, wicker furniture is any furniture that has been made out of cane-like materials, through a weaving process or through the style called wicker.

Not so hard now is it?

So you might be asking, what are these cane-like materials, used in making furniture through wicker?

Good question. And here’s your answer;

The Materials Used in Wicker Furniture

what is wicker made of

1. Rattan

This is actually the main material used in most wicker furniture we see today.

Rattan has been used in making furniture since 2500 BC (Yep, put some respect on its name).

It’s a climbing plant that generally resembles a grapevine that can mostly be found in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and most parts of Southeast Asia.

Note: When used in Wicker furniture, you have to expose the inner part of the plant, removing the thorny outer coverage to get the reed which is mostly round and flat.

2. Bamboo

the bamboo

Surely, at some point in our lives, we’ve stumbled on a Bamboo plant. For those who haven’t, you might mistake it for rattan because it looks so much alike.

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When trying to differentiate between the two, you could note that a rattan plant has a core center, while bamboo, it’s hollower.

The problem with using bamboo in furniture making is that bamboo tends to break easily, so furniture makers do not use it as often as rattan.

3. Paper Fibre Rush

Yes, it is not a spelling error, it is actually spelled ‘Fibre’.  This is mainly because the product is not natural, but more man-made.

Invented in the early 1900s during the period when China had been given an embargo on the exportation of rattan,  Paper Fibre was used as an alternative.

At some point, it became so popular in the early 1930s and late 1920s, that it nearly overtook the need for using natural rattan reeds in furniture making.

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4. Lloyd loom Wicker

lloyd loom wicker

This is another man-made type of Paper Fibre that was used during the embargo placed on China.

It became incredibly popular in the early 1930s and late 1920s, so much so that it almost replaced the regular Paper Fibre.

It consisted of spaghetti-like rush paper strands woven tightly on a large fabric-like loom.

Next, the “fabric” was hung on the frame, fixed with a tack, and covered with braids. Later, wire cores were added and used in heavy areas of the piece.

The Fabric and sheets made from Lloyd loom began to appear on different types of wicker furniture including; chairs, tables, footstools, couches, lamps, and a lot more other furniture.

And is still a favorite for vintage wicker collectors.

Identifying Vintage Wicker Furniture

identifying the wicker

Halfway through the article and you might be plagued with this serious question.

How do I identify vintage wicker furniture when I walk into an apartment or office?

Well, as a wise good friend, I will tell you what to look out for in furniture to tell if it’s vintage wicker or not.

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Can be cleaned easily

Furniture made through wicker would usually just require light feather-dusting to get clean. This is because wicker furniture has natural finishing.

Note: The cushions used on wicker furniture might be the only thing that require washing and even at that, it probably would be light washing.

Flexibility

the flexibility

All wicker furniture is very flexible, and this is because the materials used in making them are quite flexible.

It is also highly customizable as there are no limits to its designs and variations.

Your wicker furniture can come in a variety of colors and uses. Uses like holding cushions, lamps and even glass.

Aesthetics

The design and feel of Wicker furniture are so good, that it could work in any living space or interior design background it is placed in.

Whether it’s indoor (your living room, dining, or bedroom) or  Outdoor (your porch or backyard), wicker furniture would definitely help beautify your living space.

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Safety

wicker is safe

Wicker furniture is generally safe for your kids to play in. Because of its lightweight, bumps and scratches can be avoided or reduced at the very least.

Durability

Scratch that, It is very durable. I mean, wicker furniture has been proven times without numbers to stand the tests of time.

Properly maintaining your wicker furniture would help it last even longer.

How To Identify Vintage Wicker Furniture in Showrooms?

vintage wicker in showroom

Personally, I feel this article should be more on Identifying Vintage rattan furniture because we’ve already established that most Vintage wicker furniture you see today are made from rattan.

So, another important thing we’ve established in this article is that wicker furniture lasts long enough to be antiquated.

But how do we identify this vintage wicker furniture when we walk into a showroom?

Let’s find out;

The Design

A great way to be able to differentiate vintage wicker furniture from regular wicker furniture is by the wicker furniture design.

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Back in the Victorian era (Which was when wicker furniture became truly popular), the furniture designs were unique, carrying different styles and patterns but still representing the eloquence and royalty, that is the Victorian era.

Tip:  Try to educate yourself on the different designs and styles used by different wicker furniture makers in the early 1900s and late 1800s.

The Weight

the weight

Although wicker is generally lightweight and easy to move. Antiquated wicker furniture should feel heavier and a bit more substantial.

This is mainly because antique or vintage wicker furniture was constructed on the hardwood.

Hardwood Frames

As we stated above, antique, or vintage wicker furniture was constructed on hardwood frames.  These hardwood frames were usually obtained from rattan.

Tips: Try inspecting the frames closely to be sure it is hardwood.

The Craftsmanship

craftmanship

 Antique or vintage wicker furniture usually has irregularities in its crafting. This is mainly because the wicker furniture made in the 1800s and 1900s was usually handmade.

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The Texture

When checking if your wicker furniture is antique or vintage, feel its texture. Antique or vintage wicker furniture has a smoother feel, this is because the rattan or reed used is of high and superior quality.

The Brand/ Label

There are some big names in the past that participated in the production of wicker furniture.

These names were partly (if not majorly) responsible for its increased popularity.

These names were Whitney and Reed company, The Dryad Company, Lloyd Loom, and Heywood-Wakefield Company.

Tip: Try remembering these names, as they would help you determine the ages of wicker furniture when checking the labels.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Congratulations, you definitely know how to identify vintage wicker furniture.

Remember to follow each point listed in this guide carefully (and I do mean carefully), when searching for vintage or antique wicker furniture.

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Selecting the right furniture for your living space truly is an important task and selecting the right wicker furniture could really bring a certain beauty to your home.

So do be careful, remember the brand names and try to inspect thoroughly before purchasing wicker furniture.

Also, do check out our previous articles, who knows, you might learn something new. For now, it’s goodbye, and please, try to have fun.

Kristina D
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