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Company History
One of Hagertys' customers, Merrill Shook, of Scotia, N.Y. and his family face the problem of putting together a prefabricated captain's chair. Photo circa 1954.
One of Hagertys' customers, Merrill Shook, of Scotia, N.Y. and his family face the problem of putting together a prefabricated captain's chair. Photo circa 1954.

How to Build Your Own “Antiques”

By Richard Thruelsen

The start of one of the most interesting small businesses in America can be traced to the fact that little John Hagerty had a cold one winter’s evening of 1948. John, who was going on two, was thoroughly dissatisfied with life and a stopped-up nose and insisted on telling the world about it. As is often the case during the dishwashing hour, John’s father was dispatched upstairs to lend aid and comfort to the invalid.

“John was yelling his head off,” relates Francis Hagerty, “but I finally got him quieted down. It was one of those times when you just sit tight and hope they’ll fall asleep. It happened that while I was sitting there I found myself looking at a little ladderback chair that stood in one corner of the room. And I thought, now, why couldn’t you make the individual pieces of that chair and sell them as a kit by mail? Then the purchaser could both save money and have the fun of putting his own chair together.

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