Q: I own a heavy wooden chair that I purchased years ago for $25. The back of the chair is marked, “P. Derby & Co. Inc., Gardner, Mass.” I am interested in the history of the chair and its value.
A: Derby, Knowlton and Co. was established in Gardner in 1863. Several years later, Mr. Derby bought out his business partners. In 1880 he established P. Derby & Co. By 1897 P. Derby & Co. was listed as the second-largest chair manufacturer in the country. It had branches in Boston, New York and Chicago. The company specialized in cane furniture, but also made traditional wooden tables and chairs. It went out of business in 1935. Most Derby chairs are worth $25 to $50.