White Fine Furniture

Can You Name My White Fine Furniture Collection?

White Fine Furniture Collection

Can you name my White Fine Furniture collection? And what’s its value?

Since I started writing posts about White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, I’ve receive lots of questions about style numbers belonging to a White Fine Furniture collection, and estimated values.

I addressed strategies for determining the value in your local market here: https://irisabbey.com/the-market/much-white-fine-furniture-worth/

As for an individual White Fine Furniture Collection, I can now identify five — out of who knows how many? My understanding is that White Furniture destroyed their patterns when the company closed in 1993. But catalogs could be out there; I just need to track them down.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill houses the catalogs of the five collections presented here. For the price of copies, UNC sent me an electronic file. It’s a start..

Living With Tradition

This collection came in a choice of two finishes: Chantilly and Antique White.

Chantilly finished products had solid cherry drawers, posts, and rails. Its tops and end panels were made of “choicest walnut veneers.” (Living With Tradition Catalog, 1982)
White Fine Furniture of Megan

White Fine Furniture Mebane
Living With Tradition Bombé Chest, 225-34-11-F

The Antique White finish offered two handpainted artwork choices: Chinese landscape painting or Floral, shown above. The Floral design depended on the customer’s selection of color for the trim: yellow, blue, green, or gold. Raised Gesso Chinoiserie, seen on the Chantilly finish, provided another choice. Obviously, no two looked exactly alike.

Whiteleigh

To bring you furniture with a new feeling of grandeur and graciousness, the Whiteleigh combines the elegance of Empire with the classic grace of Regency. Both were the “modern” styles of their day. The rare and valuable pieces which have come down to us reflect a simplicity, quality, and vitality that blends perfectly with White’s own brilliant concepts of Contemporary styling.  (Whiteleigh catalog, White, the South’s Oldest Makers of Fine Furniture, Mebane, North Caroling, no date, p. 2).

White Furniture Company Mebane NC

White used two exotic woods to create Whiteleigh:

All solid parts are African Teak, one of the finest Mahogany-family cabinet woods, very light in color, and imported from the famous African Gold Coast. All veneered tops, drawer and door fronts are richly figured Prima Vera from Central America, are also light in color. Both woods have “open pores” as opposed to the “closed pores” of woods such as Cherry. (Whiteleigh catalog, White, the South’s Oldest Makers of Fine Furniture, Mebane, North Caroling, no date, p. 27).

The Lorraine French Provincial Collection

Three custom hand finishes . . . Old Spice, a rich fruitwood; Old Bisque, a delightful dominance of brown with gray shadings; and Old Bone, the ever loved and ever lovely white and gold.” (The Lorraine French Provincial Collection catalog, White, the South’s Oldest Makers of Fine Furniture, Mebane, North Caroling, no date, p. 3).


White Furniture of Mebane NC

Every fascinating facet of French Provincial charm scintillates in White Lorraine Collection . . . free hand carving, decorative brass grilles, dainty scroll feet, graceful cabriole legs, hooded pediments, parquetry inlay, delicate gold etching, sweeping escalloped curves and aprons, carved corner posts and end panels–a wealth of fine detailing and a beauty that never palls. Age can but enhance its charm and value. (Lorraine catalog, no date, p. 15).

Unfortunately, that last sentence — written decades ago — could not take into consideration a  future with mass production, cheaper furniture, and very little wood composition. Look how comfortable people have become with the idea of replacing sofas, chairs, dining sets every few years.

This next bedroom set image doesn’t come from a catalog. I found this Lorraine White Fine Furniture Collection advertisement online hereImportantly, this ad has a date: 1954.
White Fine Furniture Collection

Adaptique

In many ways this is a collector’s collection. No two pieces are identical. Each is a custom-designed Original. There is no rigid adherence to any one genre of design. But rather a general echoing of those Country English and traditional Mediterranean styles so compatible with today’s decorating trends. (Adaptique catalog, White, the South’s Oldest Makers of Fine Furniture, Mebane, North Caroling, no date, p. intro).

As best as I can determine, this collection offered multiple features within a piece and multiple choices of said piece. This buffet (Style 30-7, I believe), for instance, is primarily Early English but incorporates Mediterranean/Greek dentil molding, along with the Greek key motif on fronts of drawers and doors. But Tudor roses appear on the doors instead of a true Greek key.

White Fine Furniture Collection
White Furniture Co. Adaptique Collection

Then we get into the various styles of Adaptique furniture: 3 choices of buffets and 3 of china tops, as shown here:
White Furniture Company Adaptique
Adaptique came in two finishes: Artisan, a warm, rich brown; and Florentine, a Venetian grey-green.

Promethean

The undated Promethean catalog claims this style mixes “Oriental glamour with Old World charm.” To my thinking, the Old World must refer to Scandinavia because this collection has a Mid-Century Modern sensibility.
White Furniture of Mebane Promethean
Here’s the catalog explanation of the woods’ drama:

This whole collection is marked by the use of pearly pink Maple Burl, the taupe richness of brown Walnut, and the tone-on-tone color of highly figured heart Walnut.

Thanks to everyone who sent me emails and comments about the pieces in their White Fine Furniture collection. If your collection isn’t featured here, just know that I’m on the trail and will share more when I uncover new information.

Ann Marie and David

Read my other White Furniture Company posts:

White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, Part 1

White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, Part 2

How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

Clothes Press by White Furniture Company, Mebane, NC

Creative Circle Link PartySweet Inspiration Party

How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

How Much is my White Fine Furniture Worth
Last year I wrote a couple of posts about the White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, often  referred to as White Fine Furniture. Thanks to the attention these posts garnered, I still receive emails and comments from readers asking about the worth of White Fine Furniture pieces that they own, or wish to buy or sell.

Location

While I’m not a licensed appraiser, I strive to provide general information to people who contact me. Knowledge of one’s local market remains key. We live in Jacksonville, FL, and our nearest metropolitan areas are Atlanta to the north, and Miami to the south. Dealers from those locations often stop by Avonlea Antique and Design Gallery and try to negotiate our prices downward.

We brought a high-end chair into our booth, for instance, that we priced for a higher-income household in Jacksonville. The chair just needed the right person to come into Avonlea and fall in love with it. Sadly, things didn’t quite work out the way I planned.

Instead, a non-local dealer made a much lower offer. She explained that she was unwilling to pay the asking price since there was no way she would make money on the resale. While we passed on her initial offer, eventually we settled on a more reasonable amount.

You may face a similar scenario. Consider these options:

  • decline the offer and hope the right client comes in someday, or
  • try to negotiate and complete the sale

Sure, we made a slim profit, but the exercise proved dispiriting. Our chair could — and will — command a higher price in a different market. But our business needs actual sales.

Keep this in mind: that perfect customer with deep pockets and a burning desire for your merchandise may not come along any time soon. What do you do then?

My Advice

Whether buying or selling furniture, a negotiation dance is usually expected. I send an email to readers who ask me about a valuation on specific pieces. Here are excerpts from my typical letter:

First of all, White Fine Furniture is built to last for generations. It’s sturdy and beautiful. You know that it is superior to any furniture made today. The problem is, not many other people understand this about furniture. They tend to buy as inexpensively as possible and replace in a few years.

I haven’t seen photos of your set, but that’s OK because I’m not an appraiser. I can, however, offer my opinion.

Your location is a factor. I live in Jacksonville, FL, between Atlanta and Miami. We have dealers and buyers from those areas come to visit us because we sell cheaper than those metro areas. If you are in a big city, you have more options.

Unusual styles (like Mid-Century Modern) command better prices than traditional styles. I saw a gorgeous White bedroom set at an estate sale that was priced slightly over $2,000. I had to walk away because I didn’t have the money and I knew I wouldn’t make much profit on it.

If you’re in a larger market, check with local antique malls. The procedure used by the antiques gallery where I have a booth is to accept electronic info and photos from community members wishing to sell, and direct this info to a dealer(s) who handles that type of merchandise. From there, it becomes a private negotiation between the dealer and the seller. The dealer wants to acquire the items for the lowest possible price and the seller wants the highest price. We all know that and hope to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

Consignment stores are a possibility but they take a sizable chunk out of the selling price. My understanding is that consignment stores usually reduce the price on your/their pieces each month. Furniture not sold during an agreed period may be picked up by you or donated by them. If you need to get rid of your furniture immediately, however, this is a serious option.

You could place photos and descriptions of your items on Craigslist.

My number one piece of advice — I should have started with this — is to contact a dealer in your area and get info about your market. This refers back to my discussion of Jacksonville vs. Atlanta and Miami.

White Fine Furniture Legacy Lives On

Sometimes people with actual ties to White Furniture Company, aka White Fine Furniture,   contact me. I get very excited when this happens.

How nice to find folks still enjoying some of the finest furniture ever produced. I worked at White’s for three summers while I was still in high school. Many of the folks pictured I knew and admired their skill (even at 16 years old I knew a craftsman when I saw one) these men and women took pride in their job. I picked up wood scraps and delivered them to the boiler to be burned for heat and other energy needs.) At times I would stand and watch for 15 minutes at the skill it takes to cut out the scalloped huge table tops, it was amazing to watch these guys handle these huge pieces with ease. The exact measurements used, the quality of wood, the skill to finish the pieces, the packaging for shipment was second to none. White’s also knew the skill it took to put out furniture of this quality and paid their employees a better than average hourly wage. My uncle worked there nearly 50 years, he and many others were able to raise families and put kids through college because of these fair wages. The book [Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory] does give a good look of the factory near the end, but the over 100 years before is the real story of American pride. I so miss the folks I worked with there, but my memory of each one always make me smile.  — Dennis

Recently, I received this comment:

Just a little something to add to this wonderful post. I am a White and my father was the last White president of the factory before it was sold. I grew up with a house full of White furniture and I took it for granted as children do. I was recently telling a friend that I honestly didn’t know until I was an adult that furniture could break! For 46 years I have been used to drawers that always perfectly, smoothly open and solid pieces that never have any problems. I am very thankful to be a part of this legacy. Thank you, Ann Marie, for this wonderful tribute to my family’s heritage.     — Becca

My White Fine Furniture Posts

If you are interested in reading my Number 1 post of all time, head over to White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC – Part 1

Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory
Andrew inspecting bedpost, photo by Bill Bamberger

Continue on to White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, Part 2,
How Much is my White Fine Furniture Worth?

check out Clothes Press by White Furniture Company, Mebane, NC,How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

and finish up with Can You Name My White Fine Furniture Collection?

Our Newest White Fine Funiture Acquisition

I began writing this post yesterday and — BOOM — this morning we purchased dining table, 6 chairs, and 2 leaves manufactured by White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC. It needs work, and that’s David’s kingdom — but I love the Mid-Century Modern look of the chairs.
White Fine Furniture
White Fine Furniture logo

Good luck on your next negotiation.

Ann Marie and David

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