Personal Effects, Dec. 2

Published 1:57 am Saturday, December 2, 2017

Question: Hi Jerry. This was my grand mother’s stool. She kept it at the foot of her bed. It looks like it has the original finish and it has a small brass tag that says Old Hickey. Are they still in business? What could it be worth? Thanks for looking at it.

Answer: I think that your tag says Old HICKORY. It’s a great stool. Old Hickory has a long history. The legend has it that Billy Richardson and his father started making hickory sapling hoop back chairs for the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home in Tennessee. 

They took the former president’s nickname, Old Hickory, and named their company after it.

Email newsletter signup

Richardson relocated to an old abandoned church in Martinsville, Indiana, in 1894. It was here that they produced a full line of furniture. Some of the pieces made at this time can be very collectible and valuable.

The furniture proved to be very popular and was sold and featured all over the country, from Maine to California. There were few “old timey” hotels or lodges that didn’t have Old Hickory furniture on their front porches, including the Grove Park Inn in Ashville, North Carolina.

Old Hickory closed its doors in 1972 but it was bought by Bobby Welsh in 1982. Mr. Welsh moved the company to Shelbyville, Indiana. It was again sold and bought in 1984 and is still in business today.

They still produce a wide line of furniture. The Appalachian / rustic style still remains popular. Fans of the rustic furniture, old and new pieces, include Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey and Robert Redford.

Your bench is a vintage piece. I think that it dates to the 1920s. I can’t tell from your photos but if you get a bright light and a magnifying glass you should be able to see a date on it. 

Since many pieces of Old Hickory lived on porches, they suffered a lot of wear. It’s obvious that this piece has lived, for most of its life, indoors. And that is a big plus. 

It has its original finish, original woven seat,. Its good condition and brass tag only add to its value. You’d be surprised at how, over the years, that kids would pull off the brass label. 

The earliest Old Hickory pieces had the company name branded on it. I think that at a good antiques show that this stool would be priced at about $200. Thanks for sharing it.