Q: We recently bought a French provincial-style sideboard from a friend of ours and would like to learn something about the maker. There is a plastic label inside one of the drawers that says “Made by John-Widdicomb Co., Designed by Ralph H. Widdicomb, Grand Rapids.”
A: There were two furniture companies in Grand Rapids, Mich., with the name Widdicomb. George Widdicomb emigrated from England in 1858 and opened a cabinet shop. His four sons joined the business, which became Widdicomb Furniture Co. in 1873. George’s son John left the company in 1893 and established a business making fireplace mantels and woodwork. John’s company became John Widdicomb Co. in 1897. John Widdocomb Co. gradually acquired several other furniture companies. In 1970 it bought the name Widdicomb Furniture Co., which had been inactive for several years. John’s nephew, Ralph H. Widdicombe (who used the original spelling of the family’s last name), was the chief designer for the John Widdicomb Co. until 1951. His French provincial designs were introduced in 1924. L. & J.G. Stickley of Manlius, N.Y., bought the brand name and assets of John Widdicomb Co. in 2002. Stickley now manufactures a line of very expensive John Widdicomb furniture.