Please Help Identify this Gossip Bench: Plycraft? Cherner?
Recently acquired a very interesting plywood gossip bench/telephone table at an estate sale.
I've seen it described on multiple sites as a Plycraft product, and/or as a Cherner designed chair. It seems to have the pedigree from an aesthetic standpoint, and the previous owner secured it sometime in the late 50's or early 60's.
The piece has absolutely no markings on it, and none of the ones shown online appear to have markings on them either.
I'm dying to figure out where this chair hails from.
If anyone has any clues I would deeply appreciate the input.
I agree with that visual assessment! The piece was purchased in Massachusetts almost 50 years ago, to hear the family that sold it to me tell it. I know that Plycraft was a MA based company and I'm wondering if this isn't one of their early attempts and making the plywood manufacture process that they spearheaded work more reliably.
I've been trying to dig up catalogs of theirs from around that period and am having very little luck.
I've also found a number of online listings for the same piece that attribute it to Plycraft and Cherner, but none of the sellers can provide me with a link or proof that it is what they say it is (beyond telling me that they're a dealer and they've done the research).
Areas of MA like Grand Rapids, MI is also a furniture manufacturing hub, names like Winchendon, Heywood Wakefield, Conant Ball and as you mentioned Plycraft and many other names are from that area.
Also the Cherner chair reused the same tooling originally used for the short lived Pretzel chair by George Nelson and Associates commissioned by Herman Miller as seen in this online image.
Thanks for that @minimona - I had heard that the Cherner chairs came out of the process of refining the Pretzel Chair's processes and tooling. Great to see them together in a single thread.
Both of these examples are much more gracious than the original sample in my listing, but I can't imagine there were that many other companies doing bent plywood furniture around that time than Plycraft!
I know the search is meant to be half the fun, but I am pulling my hair out over this one. So much "two steps forward, one step back" progress so far. A lot of people are using online sales as proof of provenance, especially on Ebay, rather than direct evidence! It's all hearsay as far as I can tell.
I've even emailed the Cherner Company to ask if they've ever seen the piece before.
Pearsall's entire catalog (or close to all of it, anyway) is online:
I don't think it looks like Pearsall. I think he would have splayed the legs out and not had those square-cut support boards under the seat. The seat also doesn't relate to the rest of the piece much, in my opinion.
"Both ....., but I can't imagine there were that many other companies doing bent plywood furniture around that time than Plycraft!"
I dont mean any offense, but this statement is quite inaccurate. If this chair was from very early 20th century, I would agree with you, there would only be a few companies that it could be. But if it is indeed from the 50's, as you describe above, there was hardly a furniture company that wasn't doing one thing or another with bent plywood.
I dont think the Plycraft attribution is completely unrealistic, but the Cherner one is. I think it is going to be really difficult to find evidence of a maker, and even more so, for a designer, unless you stumble across it in a catalog somewhere. I would search for matches to the shape of the seat, as I suspect whoever made the telephone chair, probably also made stand alone chairs of the same shape.
Spanky, are you thinking of Craft Associates?
I have seen a few of these gossip benches over the years and if I remember correctly I saw one that had the Plycraft label attached to the bottom of it. I want to say I saw it a couple years ago in a Craigslist ad from the Ocala, Florida area.
I would say Plycraft.