Drexel Furniture History, Value and Guide

Drexel Furniture is admired by many an interior design enthusiasts for its charming all American quality as a purveyor of tradition, innovation, quality and value.

Drexel Furniture

antique rocking chair

What is Drexel Furniture?

Drexel Heritage Furniture was the name of the company that produced what is commonly known as Drexel Furniture. For many years the company was making fabulous wooden and veneered furnishings in traditional styles, inspired by French, Italian, Asian and British designs, that were very popular in the USA for over a century. Although in modern times Drexel's direction was mostly focused on producing furniture in more contemporary style, Drexel Heritage furniture is still very popular on second hand market and for a good reason. The timeless design of their Heritage lines and the exceptional quality of the execution of their furniture pieces still holds up to the high expectations of today's buyer, all that for a moderate price.

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walnut dresser, chest of drawers, drexel furniture

A Drexel walnut bedroom dresser, third quarter of 20th century. Image: Value My Stuff

A Brief History of Drexel Furniture

The Drexel Furniture Company was founded in 1903 in North Carolina by Samuel Huffman and five other men with a mere investment of $14,000, and 50 workers. They produced products made from native oak, taking inspiration from traditional French and British furniture design in order to create a wholly new unique style. Their first product was a bedroom set consisting of a bed, bureau, and washstand suite that they sold for $14.50. By selling their pieces to agents ready to assemble upon arrival, they were able to cut down on transportation costs and undersell their Northern competition. In the following years, the company would become known across the country for its classic traditional style, impeccable quality, and American ingenuity; and it would soon grow from a small rural factory to the world renowned industry it is today.

Drexel Heritage

After World War II, Drexel acquired several furniture plants from the region, one of them being Heritage Furniture. After a successful merge with to become known as Drexel Heritage Furniture Company. The company was successfully producing furniture for decades, supplying it not only to individual clients but also big-chain hotels and restaurants. The traditional, classic and elegant pieces made of high quality materials fit seamlessly into grander interiors. With the beginning of new Millenium, the company started to struggle and in the first 2 decades of 2000's several attemps were made to rescue the company. This included selling the company to LLC group and also rebranding. The company renamed to Drexel Furniture, and dropped the "Heritige". The company aimed to modernise the designs and supply to the younger modern generation. Although the company's new look and lines fit more with the style of many modern and minimalistic interiors, vintage Drexel Heritage Furniture remains popular today as well, and reigns the second hand market, as it pieces often aged very well or one can refresh them with very little effort due to the high quality of the materials used.

Related: Antique Furniture Valuations

"...the 1930s “Touraine” bedroom set, inspired by Louis XV, was one of the company’s most successful designs, and remains highly coveted by buyers today."

Drexel Heritage Writing Desk, writing table, walnut, Louis XVI

A Drexel Heritage walnut writing table, in the Louis XVI taste, third quarter of 20th century. Image: Value My Stuff

How to Read Drexel Furniture Numbers

Each Drexel furniture piece is marked with a number. If you know the number it will be easier to identify the series and the year of production of your furniture. By supplying the serial number to you r Drexel Heritage dealer or antiques dealer, they will be able to tell you more about the value of your piece.

Drexel serial numbers are usually placed on the back or at the bottom of the, depending on the kind of furniture. For Wardrobes and chests of drawers, look for the number on the less visible parts of the furniture on the back. Dining tables and chairs were usually marked on the underside. Always make sure you are in the safe environment while moving, or turning the furniture upside down, because Drexel pieces are quite heavy.

Drexel Identification number is usually a three digit number, followed by dash and three more digits. If your piece of furniture has a stamped number in a different format, it may indicate that your piece was made before 1971, which was the year Drexel Heritage standardised their identification numbers.

Drexel furniture identification number

Drexel furniture identification number example. Image: Value My Stuff

Condition of Drexel Furniture

The first aspect of your Drexel furniture to take into consideration when endeavouring to find its value is its condition. As Drexel furniture products were largely factory manufactured, there are sure to be a multitude of pieces just like yours on the market, and if the condition of your piece is not up to par, it will be left with very little value. It is important to search every part of your furniture, including the insides of drawers and cabinets, for signs of damage. One must be careful to look out for scuffs, scratches, chips, missing handles or knobs, discoloration, warping, and any other such compromises in quality. However if your piece has a knick or two, this is not the end of the world in terms of its value. Furthermore, if your piece is damaged it may be worth looking into to have it repaired by a professional; however it is crucial to never make any changes to any collectible item before consulting an appraiser first. 

Drexel Heritage side table chinoiserie, georgian style, wooden furniture

A Drexel Heritage ‘Covington Park Collection’ chinoiserie side table / server in the Georgian style, last quarter of 20th century. Image: Value My Stuff

Drexel Furniture mahgany table, wooden side table

Drexel Furniture mahogany occasional table, second half of 20th century. Image: Value My Stuff

Rare Drexel Furniture Pieces

The next feature of your furniture to account for is its age and rarity. This factor is what will distinguish whether your item will be worth simply a few hundred pounds, or a few thousand. As with any sector of the collectible market, some pieces will be rarer and more sought after than others. For example, the 1930s “Touraine” bedroom set, inspired by Louis XV, was one of the company’s most successful designs, and remains highly coveted by buyers today. Certain pieces from the company’s “Avenue” line of designs can be worth up to thousands, such as the burl wood and brass chinoiserie nightstands. However it is important to consider that even if your piece may be scarce, the ultimate determining factor is whether or not there is someone willing to buy it on the market; if the demand of a piece does not at least meet its supply, it may take some time to sell.

Drexel Furniture Appraisal

 Of course the most crucial step to take when seeking to find the value of your item is to consult a professional appraiser. Only an expert in the field will be able to determine the most accurate estimate, as they will be able to use their years of knowledge and expertise in order to reduce the margin of error as much as possible. Especially with as niche of an area of the market as Drexel furniture, seeking the opinion of a specialist is absolutely essential. Luckily there are professionals in the field available here at Value My Stuff who can assist in your valuation needs, so that you can find out how much your Drexel furniture is worth today!

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