Since their inception, Drexel has cared about providing high-quality home furnishings to the working family at affordable prices. That solid construction and real wood nonetheless have made for wonderful, lasting pieces that people want to hold onto. (That’s why it’s a fabulous brand to search for at auctions.) Don’t feel like you’re sacrificing design for a good story of American heritage. Drexel’s history shows its evolution from a blue-collar furnishing salvation to a high-style design leader.
Drexel furniture, or later Drexel Heritage, is a maker of fine American furniture prized by people for its quality and traditional style. It’s a favored treasure found online in MaxSold auctions.
The History of Drexel Furniture
Drexel Furniture embodies American style and values. Its name comes from the town of Drexel, North Carolina, where the furniture maker was headquartered when it was in independent operation. Interestingly, the town did not exist until the Huffmans started their factory there and named the newborn town after a Philidelphia family.
In 1903, the Drexel furniture company was founded by the Huffmans. The Huffmans wanted to establish a furniture company that would provide high-quality, factory-produced furniture to the everyday person. Their first pieces were a solid oak bedroom set. They quickly earned a reputation for quality. Throughout the depression, they continued to expand. Their factories centralized production, but still applied the handcrafted features that make for enduring value.
Surviving through World War II when most companies collapsed, the company continued its evolution. It landed a government contract and continued on to also penetrate post-war fashion. In the 1950s, Drexel moved from low-price furniture to mid-priced furniture. Drexel furniture was featured in home decorating magazines and favored in up-and-coming homes from the 1950s on.
It eventually merged with Heritage Furniture, which is why beyond mid-century pieces will be marked as Drexel Heritage. This merger may not have antique value, but it does hold high value as it vaulted the quality into an established “fine furniture” maker. Starting in 1951, under a new generation of Huffman leadership, Drexel began acquiring and expanding in both factories and advertising. Their furniture was rapidly rising to a defining voice in modern design.
The family company popularized real family furniture, affordable because it was able to be made in a factory rather than by hand in a small craftsman shop. However, it also dominated design and furniture fashion, meaning sophistication could be available outside the utmost elite.
Some Types of Drexel Furniture to Look for by Period
Pre-1940s: Drexel furniture includes household, handcrafted pieces including bedroom sets, washstands, and essentials.
1940s: Government offices were furnished on a Drexel contract, branching into quality office furniture. Their home lines continued, focused still on traditional styles and pieces at low prices.
1950s: Furnishings are updated, flourishing under post-war success, acquisitions, and new fashion-forward designs. Mid-century modern furniture design comes in alongside traditional styling. The brand markings switch to include Drexel Heritage.
1960s: Drexel takes on contracts with hospitals, labs, schools, and libraries. Furniture design expands to also include a fashionable Italian-inspired design line, carpets, and home decorating accessories.
1970s: Drexel continues, but now features a high-end Mediterranean line.