My grandparents were no slouches when it came to purchasing durable goods for the house – they saved up and purchased things that were nice, and generally contemporary for their time. They shied away from “traditional” furniture and lines. In the living room and dining room spaces, they purchased higher end Heritage furniture, from a collection called Perennian. Heritage today is known as Drexel Heritage (a combination made in the late 1950s, though for a time they were still marketed separately.)
Perennian isn’t a very “hot” vintage mid-century item, precisely because it wasn’t very avant-garde for its time and therefore stand out as must-have mid-century for collectors today. Perennian furniture represented a bridge between very contemporary mid-century furniture designs from makers like Knoll (who produced Eames, Saarien, Noguchi and others) and the more traditional furniture that Heritage had been known for previously (and is known for today.) The furniture featured subdued but modern lines and made extensive use of woods such as walnut, pecan, and wormy chestnut. In spite of the subdued looks, it is very mid-century. It’s also very nice, sturdy, high quality, mostly solid wood furniture, which is typical of Heritage. Much nicer and higher quality than vintage Acclaim and Broyhill Brasilia, for instance.
Interestingly, the fact that this furniture wasn’t worth “a lot” became a point of contention – my grandmother and aunt insisted they were worth more than an appraiser said. In the end, my aunt took the dining room set to a new house she bought, so this problem went away on it’s own, fortunately.
The living room also has several Perennian pieces as well – a three-part coffee table set and two end tables. Ultimately, we kept one of the end tables, and Grandma wanted the others for her new apartment after moving out. I very, very rarely see Perennian furniture out in the wild – but interestingly, Tricia over at Modchester (in her fancy Rochester mid-century house) inherited a beautiful group of Perennian furniture from the original owners of her place.
One of the things that I did keep was the original Perennian catalog from 1962. For posterity (and because Pam over at Retro Renovation archives these too, which I will send her way) I went ahead and scanned the entire catalog. It’s pretty interesting seeing the different pieces, the fabrics and suggested layouts. So, here it is, all 45+ pages in high resolution for your viewing enjoyment:
Thanks for the mention, Doug! I wish I found more of this furniture at estate sales. The shape of the legs on the pieces that we have is so unique.
I know our Perennian furniture was purchased at Sibley’s, which was a fancy department store in downtown Rochester (now sadly closed). The catalog is such eye candy. Thanks for scanning it in and posting it.
Thanks for this, it was very helpful. I just bought the little diamond shaped cocktail table (16-842-38) from a garage sale and thanks to you was able to figure out exactly where it came from!
Awesome! Glad it was helpful!
Thank you Thank you! I have two Drexel Heritage end tables I was trying to place and there they are in the catalog.
I really appreciate the catalog and information.
Welcome! So they’re really Heritage Perennian and not Drexel Declaration? I have Heritage Perennian in my dining room and living room, and Drexel Declaration in my bedroom. I need to do a post about my Drexel Declaration finds too. Also, I’ve noticed that it is now much easier to find Perennian furniture, mostly because this catalog is available for antique shops. When I bought my dining room chairs from a store down in Atlanta last year I casually mentioned I had the catalog scanned online and the shop owner immediately told me that catalog was how he identified the pieces in the first place.
There is a Heritage Perennian coffee table coming up at Skinners on May 22, 2019
Nice! I am tempted to write an updated story here too – I have bought several pieces of Perennian in the last year or so – a different coffee table, dining room chairs and dining room table. This post has slowly led to better identification of Perennian items. When I called the dealer in Atlanta who had the dining chairs I explained that I had posted the catalog online and he responded that this scanned catalog was where he figured out what the furniture was. What I’ve found is that post has led to way more people being able to identify their furniture as Perennian. It’s unfortunate that Heritage did not think to put the series name on the pieces, like Drexel Declaration (which I also bought a bedroom set) because it would be a whole different story in the vintage furniture market for this line now. But knowing was to search for I have regularly found Perennian items for sale online, often only identified as “Drexel Heritage”
Have you found if there is any value to this collection? I own the end table. We found a label underneath that identifies it as Perennian.
Ashley – Sorry, I didn’t notice your comment previously. The items have value. It isn’t crazy like, say, a Drexel Declaration piece, but they are on par with what you would pay for good furniture from a contemporary furniture store. Dining set may be worth $2K, for instance, or the buffet $800-1000.
Hello! THANK YOU so much for posting this. I actually called DH in probably 07 when I bought a Perennium set of headboard, 2 nightstands, dresser and mirror. Somehow I lost the email of the copy of the as the woman there sent me and when I called back, they said she had retired but that they received phone calls like mine often.
Is this printable? Thanks again!
Stacie – Welcome! They’re scans of the pages, so you could print them. I didn’t sample them down or anything. It is a shame the Heritage did not think to label their pieces with the line name they came from. But perhaps fortunate for people like us that makes it a bit harder to track down and, as a result, not quite as in demand (and priced) like Drexel Declaration (directly comparable in quality and craftsmanship) or Broyhill Brasilia (a more economy piece in its day – lesser veneers and weaker construction.)
I purchased a Perennian pecan demi loon for sixty dollars 3 years ago.
Makes a great television stand.
I have no idea if it is worth anything but I love it.
I’d be interested in seeing a picture of that table. Over the years only certain Perennian pieces are common. I have seen most of the dining room chairs and dining furniture, several of the end tables and coffee tables and once in awhile the book cases. A few of the living room furniture pieces have come up too. Have never seen the half-round hall piece tables (sounds like what you might have?)
I believe I have 2 storage lamp tables that my mother bought in the 60s. Thanks to you I was able to identify them. The only mark on them is the word”heritage”. But the are the storage lamp tables in your catalogue. Any idea the price?
That’s great Sue! Glad my post could be of help. Interestingly, this post is probably the most popular one I’ve ever made on this blog, and it has resulted in lots of people, including antiques dealers, using it like you did to figure out something belonged to the Perennian collection. One time I was buying chairs for my dining room set from a dealer in Atlanta and when talking to him I mentioned this post and he was like “oh that was yours!” since it was how he identified them as Perennian.
As for value, it can be pretty subjective. Perennian is not as sought after as other mid-century lines that are clearly identifiable such as Drexel Declaration, but once identified correctly and posted with the info on a good marketplace like eBay, end tables would probably fetch $150-250 each, assuming they are in good condition with no major damages.
Thank you Douglas, I don’t know what prompted me to look for my furniture on the web today. I have had Heritage Perennian bedroom furniture since I was 14 in 1962. I got a dresser, mirror, chest of drawers, twin beds, a night stand and a desk chair for my birthday, and I still have them. It has moved first a year later to my parents’ new house (rather like your grandparents’, apparently), then decades later to assisted living with them and after my mother’s death to our place at the Jersey Shore. I was under the false impression that it was called Brasilia. At 14 I just knew I liked it. It’s still in perfect shape except for the desk chair, and it’s not bad.
Edgar – So sorry I missed replying to this message right away, I must have missed the notice for your comment! That’s a great story about the set you have, and it’s one of those funny historical things that your parents had separate twin beds – my other grandparents (not the Rynkus’s) had that setup in their house too. I have a vintage bedroom set as well, though mine is Drexel Declaration. I have two nightstands, a queen headboard, dresser with separate mirror, and chest.
Basilia is a line from Broyhill that is very famous and well known as a mid-century furniture line. Broyhill was (and is) a step down from Heritage and Drexel (now combined as DrexelHeritage Furniture) – Broyhill used lower quality secondary woods and veneers and less expensive joinery. Heritage and Drexel were functionally luxury lines and Broyhill was more accessible, though both had excellent style. All of that furniture, however, has superior build quality to most common furniture made today, of course (with the exception of high-end luxury lines…but even then, I’ve seen some real junk.)
Hi! I’m so glad I found this post. I bought the buffet (page 33 of your catalog) and all it reads is ‘Heritage’ so it took me couple days to find your post and identify the collection! I love my piece and it’s in great shape, any idea of it’s value?
Sonia – I’m so sorry I did not see your post before and am so delayed in replying. In your other post you mentioned you paid $475. If the buffet is in good condition and it’s original finishes are intact, then $475 is a very good deal. Typically those would go for $800-1000 in excellent vintage condition (or restored\refinished.) So glad my post was able to help you out!