There is such a strong following for the furniture made by Ercol. Ercol Dining tables, dining chairs, sideboards, coffee tables and armchairs, in particular. Here we have a look at the enduring appeal of Ercol furniture, particularly the dining furniture and cabinetry of their Windsor range.

 

The History of Ercol

In 1889, Italian-born Lucian Ercolani (1888-1976) immigrated with his parents to England, settling in East London. His father—who constructed picture frames for the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and took up work as a carpenter for the Salvation Army in London—urged Ercolani to follow in his footsteps.

Ercolani studied drawing and design at the Shoreditch Technical Institute, before sitting the City & Guild exams in the theory and construction of furniture. In 1907, he made his first piece of furniture, a musical cabinet. At school he met Ted Gomme, the man who would later co-found G-Plan, and with whom he developed a lifelong friendship which outlived their working relationship, which lasted until 1920.

In 1910, Ercolani was hired by the influential Harry Parker in High Wycombe from Frederick Parker furniture—which later became known as Parker-Knoll . Ten years later with the investment of local businessmen, Ercolani founded Furniture Industries in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, the company that became Ercol.

His aim was to sell well-designed furniture, made by highly-skilled craftsmen who took pride in their work. This worked well for Ercol, and the company expanded in 1932, when Ercolani bought over Walter Skulls Ltd., a struggling but well-respected chair manufacturer.

Like many British firms, Ercol supported the war effort, producing over 25,000 tent pegs a day, while both of Lucian’s sons, who worked in the family business, fought in the war. In 1944, Ercol was offered a huge contract to supply the Board of Trade with 100,000 low cost Windsor chairs.

Ercol had uncovered a new way of utilizing elm, a natural resource in the High Wycombe forest that had been neglected as a timber due to its unruly and brittle nature. Using a special technique and new machinery, Ercol was able to manipulate the elm into a beautiful product. The process began with natural seasoning—drying the wood for one to two years outside—followed by kilning—steaming the wood in a large, enclosed room.

In 1947, the first pieces from their Windsor Collection were available for purchase—which Ercol exhibited the year previously at the Britain Can Make It exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Ercol’s collection of mass-produced furniture found a ready-made market in post-war Britain, which demanded smaller pieces with simpler lines than their more bulky pre-war counterparts.

 

5 Sought-After Pieces of Ercol Furniture

 

Ercol Model 449a Elm and Beech ‘Cowhorn’ Chairs

Rare Ercol Cowhorn armchairs in sought-after light wood. These beautiful chairs are made from solid elm and beech. They feature Ercol’s characteristic stick-back look, creating a greater sense of space and light. The open-legged design, raised underpart and oyster-shaped seat combine to make this a classic example of mid-century Ercol furniture.

Windsor Candlestick Dining Chairs by Ercol Furniture

Rare and stylish ‘candlestick’ dining chairs in sought-after light wood. Also made from solid elm and beech. These too feature Ercol’s characteristic stick-back look. Stunning Windsor range chairs that are oh-so sough after today.

Ercol Model 393 Breakfast Table with Magazine Shelf

A stunning vintage Ercol solid English elm breakfast table. This mid-century table has such a gorgeous grain and those classic Ercol splayed legs look so, so attractive. Fitted with a super little magazine shelf, hidden under the table top, that’s ideal for storing the Sunday newspapers.

Windsor Chairmakers Chairs by Ercol Furniture

These are quite stunning Ercol chairs. This classic chair encompass a double bow seat back, central slat and eight turned spindles, all features which are characteristically Ercol. Upward turned armrests extending from the central bow, and supported by three spindles, provide added comfort. The solid elm oyster shaped seats fix the legs into place. A perfect addition to any living room, of contemporary or traditional décor.

Grand Windsor or Grand Plank Extending Dining Table by Ercol Furniture

A vintage Ercol solid English elm extending dining table. These mid-century tables have such a gorgeous grain and those classic Ercol ‘splayed’ legs that look so attractive. This sought-after model of table is very difficult to find. The table has a twin, hinged extra leaf that stores underneath its top and, unusually, has an extra fifth leg to support its length once extended.

 

Other Ercol Ranges

 

Ercol’s Saville Range

Example: Saville Range Sideboard with Pull-Out Drinks Cabinet in Elm by Ercol

This fabulous, highly desirable blonde Ercol sideboard stands on elegant and unusual trumpet shaped legs. It includes a super pull-out drinks cabinet with an area for mixing cocktails. The doors & sides of the sideboard have an unusual, fluted design and the doors are finished with discreet, inset handles. An elegant and sleekly designed blonde Ercol sideboard. This sideboard has lots of storage space, looks stylish from all angles.

 

Ercol’s Penn Range

Example: Penn Dining Chairs by Ercol Furniture

The Penn dining chair is large and comfortably proportioned, just made for long luxurious dinners with friends and good food and wine. These more modern Ercol dining chairs complement the Ercol Windsor range with their steam bent back rail, uprights and slightly angled legs. The linear lists on the back of these chairs are an evolution of the traditional turned spindles on the Windsor chairs.

 

Ercol Finishes

Ercol’s furniture has traditionally been offered in three different finishes. These being their Dark (brown) colour, the mid-tone Golden Dawn, that was added later, and their classic Light (or Blonde) finish. Today, Ercol offer at least 10 colour choices, including the currently fashionable Black finish.

 

Conclusion

There’s no escaping it, Ercol chairs, cabinets and tables remain sought after today. Some older customers buy new from authorised retailers while younger hipsters may buy pre-loved pieces from dealers such as us. One thing that is clear is that customers who choose Ercol furniture very often stick with it and return for more!

CONTACT US

 

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Glasgow
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Stewarton
Ayrshire
KA3 3DX
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Ayrshire

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