"Needle in a haystack" and "tilting at windmills" are phrases that often run through my head when I'm trying to dig up some tidbit of information having little or nothing to go on besides a picture of the piece in question, but persistence and more than just a little bit of luck wins the day on the odd occasion. Take for instance these very nice shaker inspired chairs (photo's courtesy of Nic Mercure).

Now they look a hell of a lot like the Paul McCobb's Planner Group #1531 chair by Winchendon Furniture.

 Planner Group #1531 chairs designed by Paul McCobb

But there are subtle differences. The McCobb Planner Group #1531 chair has no stretchers across the legs, also it's legs are attached through the seat. But you have to admit it's damn similar. Now my research has shown that McCobb designed this chair once and never revisited it. There was only ever one McCobb designed Windsor style chair and it's manufacture was exactly the same (barring variations in finish) for the entire 14 years of the Planner Group run.

So now we ask that eternal question: "If it's not McCobb, then who made it?" 

And for the longest time the answer was "I have no idea" and it probably would have stayed that way except for one small thing. Recently in closing out my Paul McCobb research I have been revisiting several databases which I had already mined for information. Part of this due diligence is going back through these databases and getting creative with my search parameters in hopes of turning up something new. In this case I was searching for planner + group where previously I had searched for "planner group" as one phrase (it makes a difference!). Now as it turns out there was a furniture group named  "Kobenhavn" in the early 60's which consisted of a series of "Wall Planner Units". Being an inquisitive sort I decided to take a look at what they were offering and what do you know there was the mystery chair!

Clipping taken from Twin Falls Times News June 12, 1960 page 5

Now by no means is this ad conclusive, certainly not authoritative, there is no direct attribution to the chair in question, nor is there any direct attribution in any of the other advertising material that I have found relating to this design group. But it's certainly suggests that the chair was produced as a part of the "Wall Planner Units" group by Kopenhavn, the same image is repeated in advertising from across the USA. If nothing else we now have a rough date of production...


  1. Great piece, and I would agree that Kopenhavn is the likely design thief. I have two chairs that were built by the Northwest Chair Co. of Tacoma Washington. Their pieces come up frequently here in the northwest, and they were mainly known to make knock offs of popular Heywood Wakefield furniture. I bought these chairs specifically for their McCobb resemblance, to go with our Planner Group table. See my blog entry for pictures (http://bungalowranch.blogspot.com/2010/05/new-kitchen-table.html)

  2. I'm fascinated by the number of small companies you've found that marketed designs essentially stolen from Paul McCobb.

    I sent you an email about some chairs we saw recently. We didn't buy them, but I've remained curious about them and figured you'd have the scoop.

  3. What I just recently learned is that Northwest Chair Co. was the manufacturer of the Kobenhavn Wall Planner Group. The "Kobenhavn" chairs in the blog post are more likely than not yet another Northwest Chair design...


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