How to Identify Vintage Woodard Patio Furniture

Woodard is a well-known brand that has been crafting quality outdoor furniture for over 150 years. Their vintage patio furniture pieces from the mid-20th century are highly coveted by collectors and enthusiasts today for their timeless designs, sturdy construction, and intricately crafted details. If you have inherited or acquired vintage Woodard patio furniture, it’s important to know how to identify vintage Woodard patio furniture authenticity and properly care for it.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide key signs and markers to look for, along with cleaning and maintenance tips to preserve your vintage Woodard pieces for many more years of enjoyment.

How to Identify Vintage Woodard Patio Furniture

A Brief History of the Woodard Company

Woodard was founded in 1866 in Owosso, Michigan by Russell Woodard. The company began by producing wrought iron fencing but soon expanded into ornamental and functional castings for architectural elements, gates, and furniture. By the early 1900s, Woodard had become a leading manufacturer of quality wrought iron patio and garden furniture.

Two master designers were particularly influential in shaping Woodard’s style during this period – Salvatore Salterini and Ralph Russell. Salterini designed pieces with elaborate scrolls, curls, floral motifs, and other ornate details. 

Russell brought a more modern approach with clean lines and geometric patterns. Both pushed design boundaries and helped establish Woodard’s reputation for stylish yet durable outdoor furniture.

During World War II, Woodard patriotically shifted production to support the war effort by manufacturing specialty metal castings for jeeps, bombers, and other military equipment. After the war, the company refocused on its furniture lines. 

Mid-century Woodard patio pieces from the 1950s-1970s are some of the most collectible vintage designs today for their crafted detailing and ability to withstand the test of time outdoors.

Steps on How to Identify Vintage Woodard Patio Furniture

When determining if a patio furniture piece is a genuine vintage Woodard, here is how to identify vintage Woodard patio:

Signature Marks and Tags

One of the most definitive ways to confirm the authenticity of vintage Woodard furniture is to look for original signature marks, tags, or labels. These may be found on the underside of seats, the back of the pieces, or on the frame. 

Vintage Woodard pieces often have a stamped or embossed logo, or a metal tag indicating the “Woodard” name. It’s important to note that over the years, the location and style of these marks may have changed, so consulting a Woodard identification guide or an expert can be beneficial.

Craftsmanship and Materials

Woodard’s commitment to quality resulted in distinctive craftsmanship that can be a telltale sign of its vintage pieces. Look for heavy wrought iron frames, smooth welds, and intricate patterns that showcase hand-crafted artistry.

The weight of the furniture itself is also an indicator, as modern reproductions tend to be lighter than the original heavyweight iron used in vintage Woodard furniture.

Design and Pattern Recognition

Familiarizing yourself with the popular designs from Woodard’s mid-20th century collections can also help you to identify vintage pieces.

Designs from Salterini often contain ornate, organic patterns, while Ralph Russell’s pieces might feature more structured, geometric forms.

Reference images from catalogs or archives could be instrumental in matching your piece to a recognized Woodard design.

Consulting with Experts

If you’re still uncertain about the authenticity of your Woodard patio furniture, seeking advice from antique furniture experts or professional appraisers who specialize in mid-century modern pieces can provide clarity.

They will have the expertise to assess the design characteristics, materials, and manufacturing techniques that authenticate a vintage Woodard piece.

Patina and Wear

The age-related characteristics of the furniture, such as the patina and wear patterns, often act as indicators of a piece’s history and authenticity.

Vintage Woodard furniture may exhibit a natural weathering of the metal that adds to its character, including rust spots or a slight pitting of the iron, particularly in areas that have been exposed to the elements. 

The patina should look appropriate for its age—too much rust may indicate neglect, while a lack of any wear might suggest a newer replica. Additionally, look for wear in areas consistent with usage, such as the arms and seats of chairs, which are typically the first to show signs of aging.

How to check the authenticity of vintage Woodard

If you want to make sure the vintage Woodard patio furniture you want to buy is real, check for things like paper or metal tags, manufacturer markings, and signs of quality construction. Rust or mold can also provide clues as to how old the furniture is.

Legitimate vintage Woodard pieces are recognized for their high-quality workmanship and distinctive designs, such as traditional scrolling motifs. These long-lasting outdoor furnishings were made in Owosso, Michigan during World War 2 and are still hardy enough for your garden or outdoor living area today. 

How to Identify Vintage Woodard Patio Furniture

The crafting and styles of these pieces distinctly identify them as products from the Woodard company during that period in history. Authenticating details in the construction and markings can help consumers determine if a found item is an original item from a historic manufacturer.

Preservation and Care Tips for Vintage Woodard Furniture

Maintaining the condition of your vintage Woodard patio furniture is crucial to preserving its value and aesthetic appeal. The following tips can help ensure that your pieces remain beautiful and functional for years to come:

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your Woodard furniture with a mild soap and water solution to remove dirt and grime. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the finish. After washing, rinse thoroughly with water and dry with a soft cloth to prevent rust.
  • Rust Prevention: If you spot rust, address it immediately to prevent further damage. Use fine steel wool or sandpaper to gently remove the rust, then touch up the area with matching paint. For added protection, apply a coat of clear lacquer or automotive wax.
  • Cushion Care: If your Woodard furniture has cushions, clean them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store them indoors during inclement weather, and consider covers to protect them from the elements when not in use.
  • Avoid Direct Heat and Sunlight: Although Woodard furniture is designed for the outdoors, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and heat can fade and damage finishes over time. Use umbrellas or place furniture in shaded areas to extend the life of your pieces.
  • Professional Restoration: For significant restoration, consult with professionals who are experienced in refurbishing vintage metal furniture. They can ensure that repairs and repainting are done in a manner that maintains the integrity of the original design.

Related Article: How to Make Patio Into Sunroom

How to Prevent Vintage Woodard Patio Furniture from Rusting

To preserve the integrity and beauty of your vintage Woodard patio furniture, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent rust—an enemy of wrought iron and metal furnishings. Here are some proactive measures you can take:

  • Moisture Management: Always keep your furniture dry. Wipe away any moisture as soon as it appears, and consider using waterproof covers in rainy conditions.
  • Apply Protective Coatings: Use products like rust-inhibiting primer and paint to create a protective barrier against rust. Regular maintenance coats can extend the life of the furniture.
  • Use Silica Gel Packs: Place silica gel packs under the cushions or in the nooks of furniture to absorb excess moisture.
  • Proper Storage: During off-seasons or long periods of non-use, store your furniture in a dry, indoor area. If outdoor storage is unavoidable, cover each piece with breathable tarps or specially designed furniture covers.

Related Article: How to Stop Chairs Sinking into Gravel

Conclusion

In summary, identifying genuine vintage Woodard patio furniture requires attention to detail: hallmark characteristics, the quality of craftsmanship, and the presence of the maker’s mark. By familiarizing yourself with Woodard’s design nuances and history, you can discern authentic pieces from reproductions. 

Preserve these timeless pieces by maintaining their condition and celebrating their history. Whether you’re a collector or an enthusiast, owning vintage Woodard patio furniture is not just an acquisition—it’s embracing a legacy of American design and craftsmanship that stands the test of time.

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