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Tips and Tricks For Identifying Furniture Marked With Numbers

- 06 Oct 2015 -
11 posts / 0 new

Hello. Long time reader, first time poster. I've been reading this website forever and have learned so much from the members on this forum that you're one of my top go-to reference sources when I'm stuck. I'm stuck, but before I ask for advice I want to preface by saying that I'm not a design expert but an OCD researcher and risking wasting the members time by posting a question here is only ever a last resort.

Question: Does anyone have any tips or tricks that might aid in identifying a piece of furniture that's factory stamped with serial numbers/job numbers, but without a maker's mark or store mark?

I know step 1 is evaluating the style, era and researching designers and particular collections that came out. I've researched step 1 to death including calling furniture companies. I've researched the item using the various numbers marked on the piece in search terms. Empty.

Does anyone have a tip on how to use the numbers on furniture? Is there a database? Is there a particular phrase as a search term more productive than the millions of search terms I've been trying?

I'm certain you smart people could identify the item but I'm guessing an answer to my question might be a little more difficult? Thank you in advance.


- 06 Oct 2015

The best way to research the numbers is to post a bunch of well lit, sharp, good looking photos of the piece of furniture, starting with the good looking angles and going down into the ugly stuff like the back, sides of drawers, undersides, insides, bottoms of feet, and random marks, including said numbers.

And then you hope that some helpful person recognizes something or everything and tells you what they know.

- 06 Oct 2015

The only manufacturer that I can help you with is Lane furniture.

On many Lane pieces the number read backward is the date of production. So 263021...would be December 3 1962 ... I'm hoping other responders offer additional help.

- 06 Oct 2015

Similarly, four-digit numbers are often datecodes: YYWW (YY = year, WW = week).

- 06 Oct 2015

Would it be like a Mahogany Association Number?


Aunt Mark

- 06 Oct 2015

Thank you. I didn't post pictures originally thinking I was asking others to do work that I should be doing for myself. But I've spent an unreasonable amount of time comparing designers, company lines and worst of all comparing the font style used by 10,000 companies as a last ditch effort to narrow down where this stupid table came from. I can identify a custom Platner executive desk and credenza with Litton, Lehigh-Leopold missing but stuck on something that should be so simple. I'm posting the picture (or trying to as I'm techno-stupid) and if someone can identify it, great, but what would be wonderful is if someone can educate me on the numbers for future reference.

The design of the table could be the design of any number of people. I kept coming back to Drexel Precedent but according to the numbers it doesn't appear to be correct. Thank you for your responses and help.

- 07 Oct 2015

Nothing, huh? Right. Welcome to my world. It's not that this is an important piece of furniture (famous last words!), but I have a very bad habit of declaring war on objects that I can't identify. Especially when the object gives me clues like numbers stamped on it. I become obsessed with an object- need to win the identity war. I'm not ashamed to admit that to members of a forum called Designaddict because I'm confident obsessing isn't exclusive to me.

I appreciate the tips regarding numbers whether backwards or forwards possibly being date codes. Can anyone offer suggestions other than the numbers being possible date codes according to your own experiences of furniture with numbers?

* The top number: if not a date code, is it correct to assume that it's a number code that identifies this particular furniture item?
* The bottom number: "Job No"- what is/might be the significance of stenciling a job number on a piece of furniture. What does it mean?
* Am I giving too much importance to the act of stamping a piece of furniture with two numbers and then the handwriting on the bottom shelf, regardless of financial value?
* Would anyone surmise, even if only at first, that the stenciled numbers are possible evidence that the table belonged to a collection line?

Finally, what is this table called? I've read similar tables referred to as side table, lamp table, plant stand, pedestal table, cigarette table...

Thanks for any help. I promise that the next piece of furniture I bother you with will at least be a cool piece :)

- 07 Oct 2015

In my experience, the model numbers are helpful in confirming the manufacturer of the piece after I have actually identified it (designer etc.) but missing or absence of the usual labels/tags.

I have vintage pieces I own (both low brow and high brow) in the last 20+ years and has remained anonymous to this day. My question to you is does it really matter that much that the item that caught your eye with a purpose in your life has unknown origins?

Living room tables before WW II are taller (like a tea table) and became lower after (in general terms and I am sure there are exemptions).

- 07 Oct 2015

Thank you, Minimoma. The ability to attribute an object certainly has its purpose but, no, it's not always necessary. My home is full of both attributed and non-attributed objects. I don't always care to identify something- it's enough just to love finding it and having it. But the biggest thing about attribution, for me, is the thought that if I should get hit by a bus tomorrow, my kids should know the collection before donating it to the Salvation Army.

Attribution is also important to me because I love to turn old interesting finds into new things. I can't dismantle a vintage item that's intact before making sure that I'm not harming an object that may be important.

But the bottom line purpose for this thread was simply to get a general education on the use of numbers on furniture not only to help identify this table but a better understanding of these numbers for future use.

- 07 Feb 2018

I feel just the same as Detroitism, and I know I'm posting many years later.

Does anyone have any clues about this buffet? There are stenciled letter on the bottom of this beautiful piece, too, but I can find no other marks anywhere on the piece.

- 09 Feb 2018

I think minimoma was right that you need to start with the design quality of the piece and then decide how much time to spend it is worth to figure who and when it was made. Personally I don't see sufficient design quality in either the table or the buffet that would make it worth spending the time to figure out who made it. There is enough to see that both are american factory made pieces - going beyond that doesn't seem worthwhile to me. But that is just me and my taste. I know I sometimes love pieces that I'm sure make other people cringe, and so it goes.

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