Resettlement Administration 1935 Oak Office Chair

saintroadAugust 20, 2011

I purchased a beautiful oak office swivel chair yesterday from Northern Alabama for a very fair price. Upon closer inspection, it is stenciled on the bottom "RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION ORDER NO. 35" and also has the words, WHG CO 1935

Finally, it has Resettlement Administration Inventory or purchase code on one of the legs marked in white "R.A. 12343"

The chair is a very solid dark oak wood chair purchased for this short lived Government program in 1935. Is there any significant historical value or history available on its usage or origin? Would WHG CO be the manufacturer? Does anyone have any further info on this?

In any case, thanks so much for the assistance!

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Any historical events associated with antique or vintage items impact their future value or collectibility. How much they do on items specifically linked to the Great Depression? It's hard to forecast that into the future.

I certainly would not remove the documentation on the underside of the chair. I can see you might want to remove the stenciling on the leg if you are wishing to keep the chair to display it or press it into use. You may even want to keep the documentation of your purchase from the state so as not to break 'the evidence chain' so to speak.

I can't help you with the information as to manufacturer. You are right in that this is a little known government entity, but there will be a small segment of collectors, especially in agrarian states who might be interested in collectables associated with the social programs of the 30s. I rather suspect my ex FIL purchased the small family farm under a spin-off of this program when he moved from an urban setting to start up a chicken ranch.

It's always a good idea to preserve 'history' for its own sake. BTW nice chair.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:25AM
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I'm a little rusty, but I think what you're talking about is that agency that was responsible, among other things, for the Greenbelt community project. I don't think that was until later though.. maybe 2 or three years after their inseption under FDR's friend, (had to look up the name) Tugwell. Don't know how I could have forgotten that one thought... warped sense of humor an all. ;-)

They organized poor farmers into group farms. Provided small economical housing, food co-ops, and economical furniture specifically designed to provide the necessities of life that would fit within the small housing units.

I'm only most familiar with their furniture enterprises. They designed sample furniture that was produced within a local community, then used government procurement programs to place orders from the community warehouse groups. Possibly "WHG Co."? I dunno, but seems to make some sense.

Personally, I think your chair holds a great deal of historical significance. The furniture produced through the warehouse groups were of extremely quality, considering the times, and were highly coveted.

I agree with Calliope in every respect, but with one caveat. I would not remove the stenciling from the leg.

It's really a great looking chair. Ya done good!! If it were me, I might use a little formby's furniture cleaner to remove some of the accumlated buildup (mostly on the arms), and then a bit of lemon/orange oil on a regular basis to help stabilize the wood oils, but other than that, it's very attractive and deserves to be preserved, IMHO.

Gives you goosebumps how some of the most poverty striken areas where completely transformed, not by government "handouts", but simply by a bit of organization and education of their own innate abilities, and by learning to live and work as a community.

I don't recall what spinoff agency was responsible... urban resettlement program (?) reutilization group (?) (I could look it up but I'm lazy that way ;-) that Calliope mentioned, but we had family that benefited greatly from the same deal. They took city folk that had never farmed a day in their life, set them up on a piece of land, taught them how to farm or ranch, set up co-ops... good stuff, that!!

Makes you wonder a bit these days though why we seem to be incapable of doing the same for our own once again.

I digress. lol NICE chair!

Here is a link that might be useful: Greenbelt MD History

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:26PM
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The program was not terribly popular, and got morphed into other agencies but went forward in disguise until post WWII. And yes....I suspect they got the farm through Urban resettlement.

A purist probably wouldn't remove the leg stencil, but as the long as the information under the seat remains to document the age and intent of the piece I'm not sure that it would impact the resale value all that much and it's certainly ugly. LOL.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 1:58PM
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I will leave everything as found. History deserves to be preserved with some consideration. Thanks for all of the incredible info. Not a bad find for only $35, huh? :) Incredible piece. Will go great in my office for antique pocketwatch and fan repair. Been looking for one for years, this one is perfect.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 2:14PM
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Calliope wrote: [as the long as the information under the seat remains to document the age and intent of the piece I'm not sure that it would impact the resale value all that much and it's certainly ugly] And as they previously mentioned to preserve the recipt of purchase...

Quite true on all accounts. Removing it would not in any way detract from is value.. HOWEVER LOL... and I'm not really a purist, but from a guys persective, it really adds an additional "coolness" factor.

Saintroad makes a good point as well. History deserves consideration. Let's face it though... that's just a darn cool captain's chair. lol

Take it with a grain of salt though. I'm not really big on asthetics when it comes a piece of furniture with a real "coolness" factor. Irks me to no end when the wife throws out one of my lucky shirts just because it's ripped in a few places so that should help place perspective when it come to MHO's. :-)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 6:42PM
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These chairs are not particularly rare. There must be 50 or 60 of them in the local county courthouse. The courtroom alone has at least 8. 4 for each oak library table the attorneys use during trials. The county auditor has at least three in her office and there are offices on 4 floors. I've seen them in a lot of government buildings over the years and probably will still be there should I go back to visit again. The only time they get replaced is when the buildings are modernized and all furnishings along with it. Most small towns are proud of their historical buildings so usually the larger cities built new facilities. The only thing making this chair unique is the history attached to it by the tags and stencil. So, I would think twice about removing them.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 12:45PM
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No they're not particulary rare, and you are right.....small towns and villages tend to still have a lot of remnants of those eras pressed into use. I can remember furnishings like these were the norm back in the sixties and they don't disappear until remodeling or demolition because they are remarkably durable. They can only increase in value as the years wear on, however like oak sectional bookcases, sleigh school desks, and treadle sewing machines. Lots of it around, but ending up eventually in the hands of collectors.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:07PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

I think it (and its history) is very cool. Congratulations on a great find!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 7:40PM
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Ditto what cyn427 said.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 8:39PM
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