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Berkey & Gay Furniture Co.
1866 – 1931; 1935 - 1948
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Successor to Berkey Brothers & Co.
SEE ALSO Berkey Brothers & Co.; Berkey & Hamm; Berkey & Matter; (Listed below); Oriel Cabinet Co.
1866: George W. Gay becomes partner in Berkey Brothers & Co.; name is ***** ***** Berkey Brothers & Gay.
1872: William Berkey withdraws from leadership of company.
1873: Company is incorporated as Berkey & Gay.
1874: New six-story factory, with wholesale and retail showrooms, becomes one of Grand Rapids’ most prominent structures.
1875: Salesroom opens in New York City.
1876: Berkey & Gay is one of three Grand Rapids companies to win an award for its display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
1885: Firm advertises nationally, and ships over a half million dollars in goods through out the U.S. and Europe.
1900: Retail operations discontinued.
1911: Berkey & Gay acquires Oriel Cabinet Co.
1923: Wallace Upholstering Co. and Grand Rapids Upholstering Co. are merged with Berkey & Gay as the Consolidated Furniture Companies.
1929: Simmons Co. of Chicago acquires Berkey & Gay’s $10 million in assets, including 5 Grand Rapids plants with 1.5 million square feet of space, and $8 million in annual sales.
1931: Sales decline sharply; Berkey & Gay forced to declare bankruptcy.
1934: Stockholders win $2,000,000 judgment in suit against Simmons, then the largest civil award in history.
1935: Berkey & Gay re-opens under new management.
1948: Company declares bankruptcy; name is ***** ***** Harvest Furniture Co. of Louisville, Kentucky and production ceases.
"1915 – 1931: The era between World War I and the Great Depression was Berkey & Gay’s zenith of production. Upholstering was spun off to subsidiaries like Wallace Upholstery and Grand Rapids Upholstery, so Berkey & Gay concentrated on living room and bedroom suites. Although designs ran the gamut of freely translated European and American revival styles, most tended toward larger, heavier periods like Elizabet*****, ***** and Mary, and American Empire.
Pieces were well constructed. A variety of woods was used, mostly dark mahoganies and walnuts, with occasional accents of lighter woods, painted decoration, or exotic materials like turquoise. These were further darkened by the application of stains wiped around edges and carvings, to give the appearance of age.
One interesting novelty was the "Old Ironsides Table,” of which only about 100 were produced. Its scalloped apron and block-turned legs and stretchers were adapted from an illustration in a Wallace Nutting book on American antiques. An eagle medallion on the single drawer front was carved in wood taken from the U.S.S. Constitution, during its restoration in Boston Harbor."
Your desk was made between 1935-1948.
My research indicates that it has an estimated retail value of $850-1000
assuming good condition and depending on sale location.
In general, a private seller to a dealer or at auction can expect 30-60% of estimated retail value.
Insurance replacement values are usually about 10% more than retail values.
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