Is it Ercol? Part 2: What to look for?

With a variety of Ercol ranges to choose from, it is often hard to identify whether a piece might be Ercol.

In this post we will focus on identifying the most popular Ercol Range - Windsor.

Ercol 514-2 Cowhorn Settee
Ercol 514/2 Cowcatcher Settee

Spotters Guide:

There are several indicators to look for to help identify Ercol furniture if a label is missing. Few of these alone can positively identify Ercol furniture but several together increases the likelihood. Those that are Ercol specific are indicated with an *

Visible leg through surface 'wedge' joint*. The leg comes up through the surface (usually on seats but also on some tables), where a slot at the top of the leg has a wedge driven into it then sanded smoothe. This widens the top of the leg ensuring a secure fit. The exception is the classic Butterfly chair.

Ercol wedge-joint on pebble table
Ercol wedge-joint on pebble table

Oval recessed handles*, you are likely to find a metal cap on the inside of the door or drawer which covers a dowel and wedge fitting similar to the above leg joint. Horizontal on drawers, vertical on doors. Door handles on newer models may rotate to operate locking. Early handles were round button handles but still recessed.

Ercol oval recessed and early button handles
Ercol oval recessed and early button handles

Solid wood seats, 'scalloped' for a comfortable derrière. The thicker the seat the older the piece. Seat shapes varied over time 40's and 50's squarer and flat sided, brief period in the 50's where the seats had a 'waist' narrowing in the middle followed by the standard oyster-shape with sloped sides.

Solid wood seats on Ercol Quaker, Ercol Cowhorn and Ercol Tub Rocking chairs
Solid wood seats on Ercol Quaker, Ercol Cowhorn and Ercol Tub Rocking chairs

If upholstered, usually Pirelli rubber webbing in loop and dowel* method rather than clips (although sprung seats were used from 1953-1955 and the classic tub chair has a solid seat. Webbing was originally front to back only, lateral webs were a later addition and webbing designs for the same models changed over time.

Ercol loop and dowel webbing using Pirelli
Ercol loop and dowel webbing using Pirelli

Piano hinges on tables and cupboards. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, other systems have been used, particularly on newer pieces where harder-wearing hinges have been used.

Ercol hinges
Ercol hinges

Very little hardware on display - The latter is an exception. You will not see visible screws, the few that are essential are recessed and capped with mushroom plugs. There are some exceptions, hinges, shelf supports, magnetic door catches and studio couch bolts among them.

Ercol hardware: shelf/drawer supports, studio couch bolts, mushroom plugs, piano hinges and drop leaf sliders
Ercol hardware

Fully finished front and back - The only exception I know of is the early 351 sideboard

Rear view: Ercol sideboard, Ercol 437/439 Writing Desk, Ercol 512 Sideboard, Ercol 482 Dressing Table
Rear views

Dovetail joints clearly visible wherever possible

Ercol dovetail joints
Ercol dovetail joints

Other joints you might see used

Ercol finger joints and other joinery
Ercol finger joints and other joinery

Bowed edges, drawer and door-fronts - The exception is any table with magazine rack. Note early door and drawer fronts were flat.

Ercol Bow Fronts: incl. 213 table, 351 sideboard, 482 dressing table, 393 breakfast table, 437/439 desk, 459 coffee table, grand windsor sideboard

Lip or no lip? Earlier pieces had a front 'lip' to protect the handles from damage. It stopped you pushing your chair back from the dining table and smashing the handle of your sideboard. Later it was removed to offer cleaner lines and a neater profile.

Ercol 437/439 Desk, Ercol 351 sideboard, Ercol 482 dressing table and Ercol 512 sideboard
Ercol lips

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