home > about us > company history page 5
| It should be pointed out at this juncture that
the Hagertys enjoyed one other advantage in starting their enterprise--a sound
family financial background. Fran's mother had staked him when he started his
boatbuilding business and Hagerty himself had enough invested capital to
provide security for his early purchases of material and equipment for the
Though the Hagertys' inclination was toward Early American furniture they also, at this time, scouted the alternative possibility of producing modern furniture in kit form. As Fran recalls their reasoning and final decision:
"Mary and I have always been just as interested in good modern design as we have been in colonial pieces, but after thinking it over, we decided that the Early American furniture was our dish. This was not only because we were deep in the heart of New England; we also felt that a reproduction of a museum piece would be much easier to sell by mail than a piece of modern furniture. The prospective purchaser, we figured, would reason that if a piece of furniture was still usable after two hundred years, it must be a pretty solid piece. Also, the fact that a museum had chosen it for display was a warranty that it was well designed. These two considerations and, I suppose, the pressure of our surroundings, decided us in the favor of the colonial.
"For our purposes we consider that period as the years between 1680 and the Revolution. There was a good deal of fancy furniture produced during that time--like the exquisite mahogany, ball-foot pieces made by craftsmen such as McIntyre in Salem--but for practical reasons we limited ourselves to the simpler pieces of provincial furniture which were usually made of local woods."
The Hagertys' early researches on their project disproved on of their initial theories and confirmed another. They soon discovered that not only were there unassembled furniture kits currently available; they found also that the practice of selling furniture in kit form went back to the early years of the nineteenth century when the craftsmen of the Shaker sect made household furniture in several New England centers and shipped it, knocked down, to the various Shaker colonies. Many of the famous Hitchcock chairs, too, found their way out to the provinces in a disassembled form as part of the stock of itinerant peddlers.
The Shakers were heeding the sect's tenet dictating a uniform simplicity of dress and decor among its members, while the Hitchcocks were trying to cut down transportation costs--and in neither case were the parts of any two pieces interchangeable.