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5 Tips on How to Spot an Authentic Ercol Chair

It's not every day that you get to experience sitting in a design classic, and that's precisely the case when you settle into an Ercol chair. Whether you're lounging in the iconic Ercol stacking chairs,...

It's not every day that you get to experience sitting in a design classic, and that's precisely the case when you settle into an Ercol chair. Whether you're lounging in the iconic Ercol stacking chairs, relaxing on the model 203 sofa and armchairs from the Windsor range, or dining on the high stick-back dining chairs, you'll know that you're in the presence of craftsmanship and quality.

Ercol, founded in 1920 by Lucian Ercolani, has been a prominent name in the furniture industry for decades. Their designs can be found in various settings, and interestingly, even during the war, the Ercol factory produced tent pegs for the army.

To help you identify an original Ercol chair, we spoke with one of our expert sellers, Simon Andrews, who shared his tips and insights. Let's dive in!

Is there an Ercol label?

Ercol label The most obvious sign of an authentic Ercol piece is the presence of an Ercol label. All Ercol furniture is stamped with a sticker that indicates the year of manufacture. The labels have evolved over time, but the ones you are most likely to find are small, square blue labels printed on metallic paper or circular gold labels with a lion above the name. It's important to note that while the presence of a label is a good indication of authenticity, it is not foolproof. Labels can come off easily, and a missing label does not necessarily mean the piece is not genuine.

What is the Ercol chair made of?

During the mid-century period, the Windsor range from Ercol primarily used two types of wood: beech and elm. Beechwood was used for the legs of tables and sideboards, as well as for most of the chairs (excluding the solid seats). Elm, on the other hand, was used for solid seats and the tops of tables. Beechwood has a light color with a noticeable fleck in the grain, while Elm is slightly darker with an attractive swirly grain pattern.

Consider the style of the Ercol piece

A distinguishing feature of Windsor range chairs is the Windsor wedge joint, also known as the wedge-through-seat joint. Look for small circles on the base of the chair with a different wood grain than the rest of the seat. This is where the legs meet the seat. Additionally, almost all Ercol chairs from the Windsor range are webbed, with the exception of some early chairs that used tension springs. The webbing patterns varied over the years, but the traditional webbing found on many chairs is known as "Pirelli" webbing, which has a canvas interior and rubber exterior. Another characteristic to look for is the round shape of the stick backrests, which is typical of Ercol chairs. Many "Ercol style" chairs have oval or squared off sticks.

Color & finish of the Ercol chair

Color can often cause confusion when identifying Ercol chairs. The Windsor chairs from this period, up until 1981, were finished in a natural "light wood" color, achieved through a clear lacquer. Chairs with a darker finish and identical shape belong to the Old Colonial range. Around 1982, Golden Dawn was introduced as an option, and the old colonial dark finish became known as Traditional. Be cautious when purchasing furniture in darker colors, as Golden Dawn is often wrongly described as a natural "light finish" when, in fact, it is quite dark, though not as dark as Old Colonial/Traditional. Avoid buying a piece with a dark finish in the hope of making it lighter.

Is the price right?

It's worth noting that "Ercol inspired" pieces will often have a significantly lower price than genuine Ercol pieces, especially those from the sought-after Windsor range. To ensure you're paying the right price, compare prices across different platforms and check if the price aligns with the average market value. If the price seems too good to be true, it may be wise to give it a miss.

Getting serious about identifying Ercol furniture

If you're eager to learn more about Ercol furniture, there is an excellent book entitled "Ercol Furniture in the Making" by Lesley Jackson, which can be a helpful resource. You can also explore the Ercol archive for old brochures and check out our Stories section for an article about the history of Ercol.

If you're interested in owning an original Ercol piece, browse our vintage marketplace's selection of Ercol furniture and seating. Our expert sellers have meticulously curated the collection, ensuring that everything listed on Vinterior is genuine and authentic.

Now that you're equipped with these expert tips, go forth and confidently find your perfect Ercol chair!