Posted on

What happened to Harden Furniture? (The Sad Truth about one of America’s Best Furniture Companies!)

vintage Harden dresser

About Harden Furniture

Harden Furniture used to be a premier brand for luxury furniture stores.

Harden bedroom furniture, living room and dining room furniture decorated the most high end furniture stores around the country.

Indeed, most high end retailers looked at Harden as one of the best quality recommendations they could make to their clientele.

Their traditional styles and fine solid wood furniture spoke of timelessness and true quality.

Today, sadly, Pre-Owned Harden Furniture can only be found in select places.




Who Sells Harden Furniture?

Essentially, you can only purchase Harden Furniture at

  • Vintage Stores
  • Antique Stores
  • Thrift and Charity Shops
  • Fine Consignment Shops
  • Online Antique Stores
  • Craigslist Furniture Section
  • Ebay Stores
  • Chairish and Other Online Platforms

Furniture Manufacturing has finally halted at the Mcconnellsville, New York Factories as of 2018.

Harden Furniture Liquidation sales of all wooden parts and machinery took place during the last quarter of 2018. Customers, woodworkers, office workers and retailers said goodbye for the last time to Harden Furniture.



Harden Furniture History

Harden Furniture stayed a family company until its last few years and witnessed five generations of owners with the Harden name. harden furniture history

The Harden family settled in Northern New York State (North of Syracuse, near the Canadian border) in the 1840’s. At that time, Charles S. Harden Sr., had returned home to the New York area after his adventurous spirit took him out west to search for gold.

While no gold nuggets turned up in the Colorado mines, Charles established a successful saw mill on the winding Fish Creek in New York.

His son, Frank, took a great interest in the saw mill and wood arts. It was at this time that the father and son duo saw opportunity utilizing their lumber and sawmill to build bridges. They formed a successful bridge construction company during the summer months. During harsh New York winters, they started making kitchen chairs.

These chairs gained popularity and jump started a new venture! Next, Harden started producing parlor chairs, rockers and upholstered pieces in the late 1800’s.



Harden Cherry Furniture

In the 1930’s, Frank’s son, Harry, made a huge transformation to Harden’s product line. Previously, Harden craftsmen used mahogany, maple and birch wood. Harry Harden decided to make native black cherry the focus in the company’s fine furniture goods.

From this point forward, cherry wood harvested from local New York forests became the main component of Harden Furniture.

In fact, Harden purchased thousands of acres of forest and implemented a sustainable forestry program.

harden cherry furnitureMost recent owner, Greg Harden, spoke of Harden’s commitment to harvest select trees to allow for new growth and regeneration of their forests.

In fact, one of Harden’s slogans was “Harden Furniture: From the Forest to your Home.” Their focus on environmental sustainability earned them national recognition as well.

This commitment to the production of solid cherry furniture led the company to huge success in the 1970’s through the 1990’s. Known for its durability and beauty, cherry furniture by Harden developed into a status symbol for fine homes. At its peak, the company employed 500 people and produced and distributed thousands of pieces of furniture across the United States each year.



Harden Furniture in the Modern Era

harden cherry sideboardLike many American companies, including Pennsylvania House, Harden faced challenges in the post 1990 era.

As trade opened up with Asia and Mexico, American production moved overseas where cheaper labor markets emerged.

By the 1990’s and 2000’s, Harden Furniture Company struggled to compete on price.

Greg Harden sited a “20 percent disadvantage” of labor costs in their production lines compared to overseas manufacturers in an early 2000 interview.

Cheap imported furniture distributed by large retailers started to win dominance in the US market. In fact, most domestic fine furniture makers could see no way to compete with big box stores.

And as manufacturing jobs left our shores, the middle class who once was able to purchase and enjoy solid wood furniture, found no way to afford such a luxury.

Essentially, as manufacturing jobs left, so too did a strong middle class.

Fine Furniture occupied an even smaller portion of the market during the 2008 crash and subsequent recession.

Of course as many people faced foreclosure, opulent dining room sets with a price tag of $20,000 or more seemed out of touch with the new economic realities hoisted on the American people.

Facing these challenges to profits and diminishing sales, Harden started to experience layoffs and tightening finances.



Harden Furniture Company Buy Out

During the mid 2000’s, Harden employed less than 300 people.

During these hard times, Harden also took a risk and started a product line made overseas. Their “Tapestry” line introduced a lesser priced imported line under the Harden umbrella. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this short-lived attempt to offer cheaper goods didn’t boost sales and was phased out.

The time came after a series of layoffs, restarts and attempts to salvage the company that Harden LLC was sold. After 174 years of business, Harden Furniture came under new ownership.



Who Owns Harden Furniture?

In January 2018, Big Shoulders Capital, LLC out of Illinois purchased Harden Furniture.

While the new company aimed to give new life to Harden, they simply could not bring back the manufacturing process in a serious way. Additionally, the new owners could not surmount company debts. After two failed attempts to resuscitate the company, Harden furniture under Big Shoulders Capital LLC sent their tools and remaining equipment to the auction block in October of 2018.

Big Shoulders Capital and its partners are now attempting to sell the “Harden” name and the remaining intellectual property under sealed bids. Bidding for the name, website and furniture plans are open until February 1, 2019.



Harden Furniture Styles

harden sofa Certainly, we remember Harden fondly for their incredible furniture. As a vintage store, we witness the beauty and craftsmanship of Harden Furniture collection nearly every day. In fact, it remains one of our favorite traditional furniture manufacturers.

But what differentiates Harden from other brands?

Besides the commitment to solid cherry, I think the Harden Furniture Collections designs were truly top notch.

Harden worked relentlessly at perfecting their cabinet, table and chair designs. Harden bedroom furniture, with beautiful poster beds and dressers, equaled Stickley furniture’s quality in my opinion. By their peak, the company sold over 750 different furniture pieces, and most, if not all, were adaptations of period pieces.

It goes without saying that Harden studied the masters.

Elegant block front chests echoed the work of 18th Century Rhode Island cabinetmaker, Samuel Goddard.

Gooseneck arms on an elegant dining chair mimic English classics, like the popular Queen Anne style.

harden furniture valueThe shell carvings and full bonnet on a Harden highboy highlight the beautiful work of early American masters.

And of course, the ornate overlays often found on a Harden secretary or curio cabinet echo the works of Thomas Chippendale.

Finally, there is always a certain elegance to the details on Harden furniture. We often see end tables and dining tables with cookie corners, rather than simple flat aprons. Solid brass swan neck hardware often decorates Harden drawers.

Another interesting Harden signature: Harden often did raised designs rather than inlay work. For instance, we have seen the belle-fleur motif popularized by George Hepplewhite make its way to Harden pieces. But instead of inlaying with a lighter wood, the Harden pieces show raised carvings on their solid cherry components.



Harden Furniture Finish

Of course, great wood, high level craftsmanship and beautiful designs are only part of the process. The stunning wood creations also have to go through final finishing.

As one of our vintage Harden catalog’s states,

“Harden’s beauty is much more than ‘skin deep.’.. Each piece of wood is beautifully matched; no natural defects are permitted, even on unexposed wood… Each drawer is meticulously sanded, sealed, lacquered and waxed so that even the most delicate silks and laces can be stored within, safely. Harden’s unique 18-step finishing process enhances the natural beauty of the wood and makes their furniture satin smooth to the touch.”

harden furniture catalogHeirloom furniture features a lengthy 18 step finishing process that protects the wood from blemishes and signs of wear. In fact, while regular polishing and careful use certainly helps, it is the finishing process that takes a piece of furniture from good to great!

Harden’s deep cherry finishes are both beautiful and phenomenally strong. With good care, Harden furniture can be passed down from generation to generation. Pre-owned Harden furniture will surely outlast its less expensive counterparts.



Harden Furniture in the White House

While most pieces in the White House are exact replicas, often made by Kittinger Furniture, Harden also has a place of honor in our nation’s capital.

Several of their fine black cherry pieces sit in the First Lady’s office. Harden also made 1000 chairs for the Capital’s Visitor Center and chairs for the House and Senate.

Most recently, Harden also was commissioned to make a 16 foot long conference table for the Theodore Roosevelt room in the White House in 2011. The special White House project took several special considerations. It had to fit the narrow room (built in 1902) and also be easy to disassemble for other types of receptions. Of course, obviously, it had to have presence and style to impress the President and Heads of State that would meet there. 🙂 Harden rose to the occasion and developed a stunning conference table made of their signature domestic cherry.



Harden Furniture Values

Vintage furniture can face fluctuations like any other market. Of course, both trends in interior design and in the general economy can affect buying decisions for the general population.

harden furniture price guideThat said, Harden held a steady grip on the high end furniture market for many years. There are many people who had extreme loyalty towards the brand, and thus the name recognition for Harden is rather high, and for good reason.

Currently, on the used market, Harden furniture may be facing a short term loss in value, much like most pre-owned fine furniture. You can purchase fine furniture made by Harden at wonderful places like Bohemians for pennies on the dollar. 🙂

Personally, I feel as though Harden Furniture may appreciate in value in coming years, especially as the legend of Harden grows. The sad truth of their recent closing may send loyal fans to seek out Harden furniture for sale. Right now, traditional fine vintage furniture really has no match in quality and Harden still stands as one of the premier companies.

True American Fine Furniture can be an incredible investment for savvy buyers. And personally, I see traditional designs taking center stage again in the design world once again. Fabrics and accessories can always be changed or modified, but when a room has fine Harden Furniture as its bones, you will immediately notice the elegant difference.



What to Look for in Harden Furniture?

As with any used furniture, you may have questions about what to look for in Harden Furniture for sale.

Of course, seeing the brand name in the drawers and undersides of chairs and tables provides reassurance of quality. In nearly all case pieces (dressers, sideboards, china cabinets) the name Harden is burned into the wood. In most cases, the year that the piece was made also accompanies the brand name, most often seen on the back of these pieces.

harden label

Paper tags and cloth labels were used on chairs and upholstered goods though. So if you don’t see the Harden tag on a sofa or chair, it is possible it went missing or someone removed it. Then, without a bill of receipt or other evidence, it becomes hard to attribute the piece to Harden unless you have a very trained eye!

With all this in mind, the evidence of the Harden name is still only half the battle. The condition of the Harden piece speaks volumes.

While most Harden furniture comes from fine homes and is well kept, there are instances when Harden furniture suffers from bad storage, over use, or harmful polishes.

We have seen solid cherry dining tables cup and warp when they were improperly stored in very cold or humid places. Storage units without temperature control can do quite a bit of harm to beautiful cherry furniture. You may see splits on the sides of china cabinets or warped china cabinet doors.

harden furniture label

Also, many people do not realize that inexpensive furniture polishes can do harm to the hand-rubbed finishes of Harden pieces. So be careful if you see a waxy or hazy finish on Harden. This may signal a little overzealous use of the aerosol cans! (As a side note, we recommend a particular Harden furniture polish! Where to buy Harden Furniture Polish?)

Finally, chair joints often see the most use, so be weary of loose joints in dining chairs. While they can be repaired, dining chairs need lots of clamps and lots of patience.



Harden Furniture Company

While sadly not in business anymore, thousands of people still have the opportunity to enjoy Harden Furniture in their homes. The beautiful dining, living room and bedroom furniture by Harden will remain an excellent choice for modern homes.

pre-owned Harden Furniture

As we see Harden close for good, I feel lucky and honored to have sold some incredible Harden pieces over the years.

Indeed, I hope to find more of these vintage Harden beds, Harden dressers, Harden sofas and Harden dining room furniture in the future. Mature clients recognize the Harden name for its quality and craftsmanship, while younger clients immediately recognize the beauty and style.

I sincerely hope you consider vintage Harden Furniture for your home. And if you have inherited some Harden Furniture pieces, I do hope you treasure them for years to come!

I can only guess that Harden will become more beloved as years go by, and no new company can come close to replacing them in craftsmanship, quality or beauty.

Thank you for reading and for inviting us into your traditional home!

Written by Rachel LaBoheme



63 thoughts on “What happened to Harden Furniture? (The Sad Truth about one of America’s Best Furniture Companies!)

  1. Very interesting read! I recently acquired what I think is a filing cabinet. It locks and has Harden Contract burned on the inside of the top drawer. Any ideas on this piece? Can’t find anything related to Harden Contract pieces. It’s beautiful!

    1. Hi Jessica. Actually no, I don’t think I have seen a Harden Contract piece. But of course, they did make very fine desks and some office furniture so it does not surprise me. Very glad you are enjoying it, though! Thanks for reading!

  2. Just read your article, it was very informative. I am in the process of down sizing and have a 12 ft Harden Vaulted Lighted curio cabinet that I am interested in selling. It was 10,000 at the time it was purchased. We’ve had it for approximately 25 years and loved it. Do you have any suggestions on where to list. We’ve loved having this piece of furniture in our home. Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Diana, Sounds like an amazing piece of furniture. Considering the size and most likely weight of the piece, I would suggest you try to sell it on the online platform called Chairish. Chairish has great benefits for their sellers, but the number one reason I suggest Chairish is because they handle the logistics of delivery when you sell it. Best of luck with your next phase in life. Thank you for reading!

  3. I recently purchased a sofa and chair in the sty le of Cushman Colonial creations, except it was made by the Frank S Hardin company. It appears to be very well made though I’m not sure the age likely between 1930s and 1960. It has the paddle arm look and I wonder if anyone else has seen this because I have not been able to even find a picture online anywhere. Also if anyone has access to vintage harden catalogs, I would be interested because the tag shows model numbers and fabric numbers.

    1. You may be able to find Harden Furniture Catalogs from that period on ebay or elsewhere online. We purchase old furniture catalogs and sometimes they do come in handy in dating a piece of vintage furniture. Of course, Harden did dabble in Mid Century designs, as many traditional furniture companies did… So I am guessing your assumption in the period is correct. Best of luck with finding more information about your sofa. Thanks for writing!

  4. I have a Craftique very large banquet size dining room mahogany table. Also have 8 traditional “Chippendale” chairs to go with the table. Purchased in 1982.
    Would like to sell this set thru a reputable dealer. Any ideas. ?

    1. Hi Tanny! It depends where you are located. Certainly, Craftique Furniture can command a good resale price. However, it is not as widely known as some other vintage furniture companies. Several of our pieces that we have sold by Craftique ended up going back to the North Carolina region. I would suggest trying Chairish Website. They are an online platform that specializes in antiques and vintage pieces. Also, they can conveniently hire the shipping companies for you. So that may be the best option for you to get a good offer on the set. Best of luck and thank you for writing!

    2. Hi Tanny. If you would like to sell through a dealer, I suppose you should go to a consignment shop. Bring lots of photos. I would also suggest that you do a little research on Craftique. Craftique Furniture was an excellent maker, but is most well known in North and South Carolina. You could also try selling the set yourself, but do not be surprised (or offended) if someone would like to purchase just the chairs or just the table. We almost never sell a dining room set together these days. It also could, believe it or not, help you sell the set overall for more money. Best of luck with your project. Best, Rachel

  5. We have a large Harden sectional sofa that we purchased new in 1995. It was available in custom size to fit in our living room. It has a heavy cotton upholstery that has worn amazingly well for its age. We still love it the sofa but it needs to be re-upholstered and it will need all new cushion cores, etc. It will need to be refurbished from the frame out. We had hoped to have Harden re-furnish this sofa, even though we knew it would be costly. We recently found out the company has closed. Can you recommend any re-upholstering individuals /operations that do the same quality work that Harden was known for? Thank you!

    1. Hi Rochelle. On a national scale, I really don’t have a great recommendation for you, unfortunately. I know professional upholstery people in my area have been getting less and less work over the years, as many people do not see the value in reupholstering an older sofa. Young people many times would rather just replace rather than repair. However, I am totally with you! The solid wood frame (and the custom size) of your Harden sofa make it totally worth the investment in re-upholstery. The best thing to do is to check google and ask local antique stores in your area. They often work with upholstery people and can give you a good name and recommendation. Best of luck with your project! Thanks for reading.

  6. I have a Harden dining room table. I LOVE it. I have had it for about 20 years. The top feels sticky in places. Any recommendations on what to clean it with?

  7. Where can I find Harden Furniture Polish?

    Dee Reedman

    1. Sorry Dee we get that question often, they closed up just over a year ago. Look on Ebay as someone may be selling old bottles of the Harden Wax.

  8. I am at a loss that Harden Furniture Polish is no longer available. Do you know of anyplace that sells this fine polish
    as I have used it since the 1970s?
    Dee Reedman

    1. Unfortunately, Dee, I do not. However, I have heard others say they use “Guardsman” Polish, which is available in most supermarkets etc… I personally use Howards Wax and “The Original Beeswax.” Both are available online. Thanks for writing!

    2. I have dinning room chairs with Donfield Traditional by Harden burned on the bottom with the number 258. I have four chairs and would like a couple more. These chairs were made by my mothers uncle when he worked for Harden in Camden NY back in the 50’s. Any idea how I could find a couple of chairs?

    3. Hi Philip, I would suggest saving a search for Harden Chairs on Ebay. Generally, they will email you when a similar product may pop up in the feed. Many sellers may not have the exact details listed though, so I would comb through anything with the words “Harden Chairs” in the title. You may have to be patient but I think something eventually should work for you!

    4. I use a product called “Williamsville Wax” that was recommended to me. My Harden furniture is not highly polished but instead is from their “burnished cherry” line (if I’m remembering correctly). I am supposed to wax the furniture yearly:

  9. Read your excellent article with much sadness, as I had not realized they had gone out of business . We have an impressive cherry corner cabinet from Harden in our living room, along with a few smaller pieces. My sister and I recently finished the task of cleaning out and selling our parent’s home in suburban Baltimore. They had lived in their home for 60 + happy years, and it was a daunting task to find homes for,or get rid of, a lifetime of possessions. They married in 1947, and at the time, bought only a very few pieces of furniture.. preferring quality over quantity. As the years progressed, they were able to complete , and then some, their décor. . One of their original pieces, their Harden coffee table purchased in 1949, remained their coffee table for their entire lives. It held countless cups of coffee and deserts, cocktails and apps, books, magazines, coloring books, games, Christmas decorations, etc. It held children and grandchildren and great grandchildren, hiding under it, sitting on it, sometimes even standing on it. After it’s last few years of life, when my Mom was no longer able to tell everyone to “please use a coaster”, it got a bit of abuse from the caretakers helping in the house, and was covered with water marks. I took to a local refinisher, and it literally looks brand new. No one that sees it, can believe it is 73 years old. But even more than it’s appearance, is it’s structural condition. Never has a piece of furniture felt so sturdy. The refinisher just had to sand and restain, no repair. This piece of furniture could probably take a few more generations sitting and standing on it, with not a wiggle. Beautiful, and durable cherry and mahogany furniture seems a thing of the past, and sadly furniture is becoming almost disposable. I hope that one of my children or grandchildren can put this table to good use, and share the happy moments that it brought our family.Thank you Harden furniture, for all of the beauty you created in so many American homes.

    1. Susan, your story is quite touching! Harden will be sorely missed, for sure. But you are right, the furniture lives on for generations. So glad you were able to save and restore the Harden coffee table. Thank you for your lovely story and thank you for reading!

  10. Does anyone know where I can buy a used Harden #580 adjustable height table?

  11. I am not sure if an item I am considering buying is a Harden table or not. I could not find this table when I researched it on the internet. If I sent a picture, would you know if it was? I saw a paper label with Harden on it stuck under the table with instructions about maybe needing to make adjustments to the table due to expansion, etc., but the actual markings I saw on the underside say “The Asher.” Would Harden have that marked on the underside of their table? Could it be a design line they carried? Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Not sure of the name of the line of furniture but it could be Harden, Im sorry but im not sure what your question or concern is? If its nice and you like the table then happy decorating!

    2. Your table is likely from the Asher Benjamin collection, by Harden. Short lived but legit. Send photo, I’ll confirm.

  12. I have a Harden dining table/chairs. I’ve been looking for additional chairs and have not been able to find any that match, so I’m ready to sell our set. It’s from 1989, in excellent condition, Model 1887-3 in Champagne. I have 3 leaves, 2 arm chairs (model 1894) and 4 side chairs (model 1893). Rather than dumping it at a consignment shop or reseller, I’d prefer to get it into the hands of someone that appreciates it. brad.denenberg at gmail.com

    1. Best of luck Brad. You could certainly try Facebook marketplace, craigslist or a local Newspaper to try to sell it privately. Thanks for writing!

  13. Hello I am very impressed with this website and hope that someone could help me with my question. My mom has Harden piano stool number 209 & beautifully Embroidered and in very good shape. If someone could contact me as how to get it appraised it would be greatly appreciative
    Thank you
    Teresa Parsons

    1. Hi Teresa, Your best bet is probably to call a local auctioneer. Most are very well versed on the “hammer price” of vintage and antique furniture these days… Unfortunately, much of the market has been on a downturn for several years, so the auction price might be a bit low, even though I am sure it is a beautiful piece. Best of luck with it! Thanks for writing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *