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Beginning around mid-century, the advent of the factory system meant most furniture was made in a commercial facility under the auspices of a company name, and very few individual craftsmen labeled their product.

Even the companies of the time were a little lax in marking the work.

A little more difficult to identify are companies that were at one time a manufacturer but became a retailer or department store. The most famous of these is the ubiquitous “Mahogany Association” that many collectors mistakenly believe to be a company name.

Around the turn of the 20th century, aniline dyes were introduced into the American furniture market.

Around the turn of the 20th century, the largest furniture retailer of self-labeled goods was Sears & Roebuck.

Sears didn’t actually make any of the own products in its own factory. Sometimes, manufacturers made a specially designed line of items exclusive to Sears, but the mark on the furniture was always from Sears.

This was also a common practice in the piano industry.

A major store would have a promotional line of instruments made with its name on it, omitting the name of the manufacturer.

In addition, there was a separate American Walnut Manufacturers Association based in Chicago, the Northern Hard Maple Manufacturers in Oshkosh, Wis., and the Birch Manufacturers, also in Oshkosh.

And, of course, there was the Mahogany Association in Chicago, which issued decals to assure customers that the furniture was, in fact, “genuine mahogany” and not a cheap substitute.

Beds, stools, throne chairs, and boxes were the chief forms of furniture in ancient Egypt.

As the furniture industry got organized early in the century, a number of promotional organizations took form.

One of the umbrella groups was the Hardwood Manufacturers Association based in Memphis, Tenn.

By the end of the century, makers like Gustav Stickley and major manufacturers in Grand Rapids, Cincinnati and Chicago had developed elaborate logos and trademarks, and few quality items escaped some sort of identification.

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