How Much is my White Fine Furniture Worth
Last year I wrote a couple of posts about the White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, often  referred to as White Fine Furniture. Thanks to the attention these posts garnered, I still receive emails and comments from readers asking about the worth of White Fine Furniture pieces that they own, or wish to buy or sell.

Location

While I’m not a licensed appraiser, I strive to provide general information to people who contact me. Knowledge of one’s local market remains key. We live in Jacksonville, FL, and our nearest metropolitan areas are Atlanta to the north, and Miami to the south. Dealers from those locations often stop by Avonlea Antique and Design Gallery and try to negotiate our prices downward.

We brought a high-end chair into our booth, for instance, that we priced for a higher-income household in Jacksonville. The chair just needed the right person to come into Avonlea and fall in love with it. Sadly, things didn’t quite work out the way I planned.

Instead, a non-local dealer made a much lower offer. She explained that she was unwilling to pay the asking price since there was no way she would make money on the resale. While we passed on her initial offer, eventually we settled on a more reasonable amount.

You may face a similar scenario. Consider these options:

  • decline the offer and hope the right client comes in someday, or
  • try to negotiate and complete the sale

Sure, we made a slim profit, but the exercise proved dispiriting. Our chair could — and will — command a higher price in a different market. But our business needs actual sales.

Keep this in mind: that perfect customer with deep pockets and a burning desire for your merchandise may not come along any time soon. What do you do then?

My Advice

Whether buying or selling furniture, a negotiation dance is usually expected. I send an email to readers who ask me about a valuation on specific pieces. Here are excerpts from my typical letter:

First of all, White Fine Furniture is built to last for generations. It’s sturdy and beautiful. You know that it is superior to any furniture made today. The problem is, not many other people understand this about furniture. They tend to buy as inexpensively as possible and replace in a few years.

I haven’t seen photos of your set, but that’s OK because I’m not an appraiser. I can, however, offer my opinion.

Your location is a factor. I live in Jacksonville, FL, between Atlanta and Miami. We have dealers and buyers from those areas come to visit us because we sell cheaper than those metro areas. If you are in a big city, you have more options.

Unusual styles (like Mid-Century Modern) command better prices than traditional styles. I saw a gorgeous White bedroom set at an estate sale that was priced slightly over $2,000. I had to walk away because I didn’t have the money and I knew I wouldn’t make much profit on it.

If you’re in a larger market, check with local antique malls. The procedure used by the antiques gallery where I have a booth is to accept electronic info and photos from community members wishing to sell, and direct this info to a dealer(s) who handles that type of merchandise. From there, it becomes a private negotiation between the dealer and the seller. The dealer wants to acquire the items for the lowest possible price and the seller wants the highest price. We all know that and hope to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

Consignment stores are a possibility but they take a sizable chunk out of the selling price. My understanding is that consignment stores usually reduce the price on your/their pieces each month. Furniture not sold during an agreed period may be picked up by you or donated by them. If you need to get rid of your furniture immediately, however, this is a serious option.

You could place photos and descriptions of your items on Craigslist.

My number one piece of advice — I should have started with this — is to contact a dealer in your area and get info about your market. This refers back to my discussion of Jacksonville vs. Atlanta and Miami.

White Fine Furniture Legacy Lives On

Sometimes people with actual ties to White Furniture Company, aka White Fine Furniture,   contact me. I get very excited when this happens.

How nice to find folks still enjoying some of the finest furniture ever produced. I worked at White’s for three summers while I was still in high school. Many of the folks pictured I knew and admired their skill (even at 16 years old I knew a craftsman when I saw one) these men and women took pride in their job. I picked up wood scraps and delivered them to the boiler to be burned for heat and other energy needs.) At times I would stand and watch for 15 minutes at the skill it takes to cut out the scalloped huge table tops, it was amazing to watch these guys handle these huge pieces with ease. The exact measurements used, the quality of wood, the skill to finish the pieces, the packaging for shipment was second to none. White’s also knew the skill it took to put out furniture of this quality and paid their employees a better than average hourly wage. My uncle worked there nearly 50 years, he and many others were able to raise families and put kids through college because of these fair wages. The book [Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory] does give a good look of the factory near the end, but the over 100 years before is the real story of American pride. I so miss the folks I worked with there, but my memory of each one always make me smile.  — Dennis

Recently, I received this comment:

Just a little something to add to this wonderful post. I am a White and my father was the last White president of the factory before it was sold. I grew up with a house full of White furniture and I took it for granted as children do. I was recently telling a friend that I honestly didn’t know until I was an adult that furniture could break! For 46 years I have been used to drawers that always perfectly, smoothly open and solid pieces that never have any problems. I am very thankful to be a part of this legacy. Thank you, Ann Marie, for this wonderful tribute to my family’s heritage.     — Becca

My White Fine Furniture Posts

If you are interested in reading my Number 1 post of all time, head over to White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC – Part 1

Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory
Andrew inspecting bedpost, photo by Bill Bamberger

Continue on to White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, Part 2,
How Much is my White Fine Furniture Worth?

check out Clothes Press by White Furniture Company, Mebane, NC,How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

and finish up with Can You Name My White Fine Furniture Collection?

Our Newest White Fine Funiture Acquisition

I began writing this post yesterday and — BOOM — this morning we purchased dining table, 6 chairs, and 2 leaves manufactured by White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC. It needs work, and that’s David’s kingdom — but I love the Mid-Century Modern look of the chairs.
White Fine Furniture
White Fine Furniture logo

Good luck on your next negotiation.

Ann Marie and David

35 Comments on How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

  1. Debbie
    December 20, 2016 at 2:21 am (2 years ago)

    I saw a bedroom set that was white with flowers painted all around it. Can anyone tell me more about it?

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      December 21, 2016 at 3:27 am (2 years ago)

      Debbie, I’m at a loss regarding your White Furniture Co. bedroom set with flowers. Sorry I can’t be any help on this.

      Reply
  2. Michelle
    January 3, 2017 at 8:43 am (2 years ago)

    Staying in South Africa I’ve never come across any White Fine Furniture, but OMW the pieces you’ve shown here are absolutely beautiful Ann Marie. The craftsmanship on those beds are exquisite. Just beautiful, thank you.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      January 3, 2017 at 8:32 pm (2 years ago)

      Hello, Michelle in South Africa, and thanks so much for your comment. White Fine Furniture always produced such wonderful furniture. Customers knew that their pieces would last forever. Today, we’re guided by a very different mind-set: everything is replaceable after just a few years of use. Of course, the materials and workmanship contribute to a limited life span.

      Reply
  3. Diana
    January 4, 2017 at 9:35 pm (2 years ago)

    What a fascinating post, Ann Marie! White Fine Furniture is new to me, but I’ll be on the look-out now 🙂 I love that you’re willing to share your knowledge and expertise on MCM. You’ve really found your niche! Thanks so much for partying with us at Vintage Charm–

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      January 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, Diana — Thanks for your comment. I get a lot of questions and comments about White Fine Furniture.

      Reply
      • Chuck Buckner
        July 4, 2018 at 11:08 pm (5 months ago)

        I too am fascinated by this post. I had never heard of white furniture up until a few weeks ago when I came across an interesting set of night stands on someone’s curb. I grabbed them up with the intention of redoing them. Was wondering if you knew anything about them.

        Reply
  4. Diana
    January 4, 2017 at 9:37 pm (2 years ago)

    PS Pinned!

    Reply
  5. Brenda Young
    January 12, 2017 at 4:36 am (2 years ago)

    I so enjoy reading your informative furniture posts, always a pleasure for a chance to soak up some history. It’s so true they don’t make them like they used to! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise at Fridays Furniture Fix!

    Reply
  6. Heidi
    February 10, 2017 at 3:48 am (2 years ago)

    Reposted as I don’t think my initial comment worked and I’d love to hear your comments if you have any and didn’t select that option –

    I stumbled upon this post while trying to learn more about my White Furniture Co night tables. They’re sturdy and have gorgeous details and I love them! Thanks for sharing the research you did – I won’t be reselling my pieces (80 bucks for the pair at an estate sale), I’m painting them and hoping we will pass them on to our future kiddos as heirlooms. It’s tough to find the incredible quality they boast!

    Heidi

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      February 10, 2017 at 3:36 pm (2 years ago)

      Heidi, I apologize for the delay in my response. We’re getting ready for a big outdoor market and my focus is split. Lucky girl, to have White Furniture — and at a great price. You’ll get no argument from me about painting or not painting furniture because my stance is: they belong to you and any decision you make is the right one. They’re wonderfully sturdy and will certainly last a few more generations. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  7. Karen Cutler
    April 7, 2017 at 5:21 pm (2 years ago)

    I just happened upon your very wonderfully informative and very captivating post when I was trying to find more information on White Fine Furniture after making a purchase of one off of an online yardsale page yesterday (admittedly I had previously never before heard of them). Thank you so much for this incredibly thorough information! I had absolutely no idea the piece we were getting was so interesting with so much history! (I was mostly just trying to prove to my husband that, as he infered, we were not paying too much for a sturdy armoire for our daughter’s room to replace the fake wood dresser that was falling apart lol! Now I think perhaps we got an excellent deal at $250!) Our armoire has been painted and does have a few minor flaws, but overall it is a beautiful piece and I am so very satisfied with it.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      April 8, 2017 at 1:14 am (2 years ago)

      Karen, well done, indeed. You’ve purchased a piece that will last a few more generations. I hope you told your husband that you possess excellent furniture hunting and negotiating skills. He should be impressed. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  8. Paulette Paglia-Ng
    May 27, 2017 at 10:41 pm (2 years ago)

    Ann Marie,

    Thank you so much for your blog. I love the way you write. I share your passion for both quality furniture and your deep compassion for the wonderful designers and crafts people.

    I came across your blog because of a pair matching White Furniture mirrors I just purchased at a yard sale for $50. I was told they were antique. Unfortunately. I believe they were painted over (in an antique white – possibly chalk paint) because the backs are stamped, ‘WHITE FURN CO’ ‘CASTILLIAN BROWN’ ‘4900-GG MIRROR LOT NO 826.’

    I have taken photographs of them from the front and back.

    Any info you can share is greatly appreciated.

    Now to purchase Mr. Bamberger’s book and read through your blog.

    Reply
  9. Alison Parada
    July 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm (1 year ago)

    We were given a White Dresser that is beautiful! It has fruit wood stamped on back of the mirror. I’m researching and trying to find out more info. We want to sell but no idea what to ask for it. I have a lot number AMD another number, 3500-4. Any information you could give would be great! I’m located in Augusta, GA. Thank you!

    Reply
  10. Anne Payne
    August 21, 2017 at 7:49 pm (1 year ago)

    I just bought a White Fine Furniture French Provincial Serving Cart yesterday. My husband thinks we should go back and get the matching china cabinet and table & chairs but I don’t have room! I had no idea about this company but I’m glad I found your website and learned a little more about White’s. The ‘label’ on the inside of the cart is cloth and glued on. Have you seen this before? I tried to find info online but wasn’t successful.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      August 21, 2017 at 10:04 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi, Anne — Congrats on your serving cart. Yes, I’ve seen the cloth labels glued on. Of course, I did a quick search and didn’t find any either. But I can verify that White used them.
      I won’t be able to identify your piece if it isn’t among those 5 collections I wrote about. These are the first collections I’ve learned about — I can’t even identify pieces we have/had.

      Reply
      • Anne Payne
        August 21, 2017 at 10:52 pm (1 year ago)

        Thank you! I appreciate the confirmation. I did find one similar to mine on Pinterest today. It was identified as a White Furniture Co Lorraine Louis Xvi French Style Drop Leaf Serving Cart. Mine doesn’t have the intricate detailing on the top drawer but is similar in the rest. I guess all that really matters is that I love it! 🙂

        Reply
  11. Susan Fitzgerald
    November 13, 2017 at 3:24 am (1 year ago)

    I have a White of Melban bedroom set I bought in 1983. It’s in need of refinishing after 4 kids and several moves. Painting seems wrong. Should an amateur do this?

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      November 13, 2017 at 4:19 pm (1 year ago)

      My husband, David, is the wood repair expert in our house. Here’s what he says: if you want to bring the bedroom set back to its original state, a refinisher is your best bet. You probably don’t have the necessary expertise and tools (including a spray system to apply the finish lacquer. Most refinishers will put a minimum of 6 coats of lacquer on. Now, let’s talk about you doing it yourself. First you have to evaluate the damage. How severe are the nicks and scrapes? Do you have white and/or black rings under the finish? These are caused by moisture getting underneath the finish. White is much easier to deal with. Here’s a post on different wood problems and repair suggestions: http://www.irisabbey.com/diy-projects/diy-wood-repair-water-marks-burns-scratches-finishing/

      There are plenty of youtube videos about wood repair and refinishing. If you do attempt to refinish by yourself, remember that it is a process. Take your time. Sanding too aggressively may damage the veneer because veneer is very thin. There are wood dyes and wood toners that were routinely added at the factory as part of the spray process. Duplicating those is difficult. Case in point, we have a Kent-Coffey chest of drawers and nightstands that have a hard to reproduce finish. We are going to give them to our refinisher.

      By the way, I’ll post another wood repair post later today. It will focus on a bedroom made in 1941-42. Since it was manufactured, someone professionally refinished it and the subsequent surface damage was minimal. You can read Part 1 here: http://www.irisabbey.com/design-history/heywood-wakefield-miami-bedroom-set/
      David handled all the repair; it didn’t need to be stripped, sanded, and refinished.

      Reply
  12. Jeannie uffelman
    January 19, 2018 at 1:25 pm (11 months ago)

    Hello, I have the White Furniture Hutch you used in you’re initial picture. The one with the brass circular nibs that is in two pieces. It does seem to be a lighter wood. I am looking for a table to go with it. Do you know the wood. Thank you for writing this fine article. I live in Gainesville but am familiar with Avonlea in fact it is my favorite.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      January 29, 2018 at 12:03 am (11 months ago)

      Hi, Jeannie — The wood from our piece is walnut.

      Reply
  13. Allen Federman
    March 18, 2018 at 9:46 pm (9 months ago)

    So, my grandfather was a furniture salesman from the 30’s until the 80’s and used to regularly attend North Carolina’s furniture shows. Well, either he was simply a huge fan of White Furniture, which is fantastic, or he was a fan and knew the White Family from the shows somehow. I think I have 9 or 10 pieces passed down. 🙂 Miss and love you much, Benjamin Federman.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      March 19, 2018 at 5:15 pm (9 months ago)

      Allen, I love to hear these family stories. The White craftsmen created wonderful pieces until the family sold the company in the 1985. I remember reading an a comment from one of the workers. He claimed that during construction, if any component of the furniture was 1/8″ off from the specs — drawers, frames, anything — the piece would be scrapped.

      Reply
  14. Charlotte Esworthy
    March 19, 2018 at 3:24 pm (9 months ago)

    I’ve found all this information on White Fine Furniture most interesting. We purchased our bedroom set in 1974 when we were married and it has followed us through many moves, surviving quite well. Last week a clip on one of the doors on the dresser snapped and am trying to find the best way to replace it. Sadly, it seems our children haven’t acquired a real appreciation for well made furniture…

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      March 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm (9 months ago)

      Charlotte, Finding matching hardware for any piece of furniture is a futile task. I know. I’ve been there — and have given up. When I look at a piece of furniture to buy, if it’s missing any hardware, I walk on buy.
      I’m not sure what you mean by “clip.” I’m thinking a device on the inside of the door that secures it when closed, or maybe a hinge. But matching it will be challenging to impossible. If I were looking to match a piece of hardware — and I can’t imagine myself doing that — I’d check online vintage hardware websites. There’s a Facebook group that sells vintage and antique hardware, called The Hardware Exchange https://www.facebook.com/groups/1477579779154923/ . You can join for free and post a picture of what you need.

      I’m sorry I can’t be more encouraging about hardware. I can, however, offer you kudos on having a White bedroom set. Well done! Finally, I understand how frustrating it can be when your children don’t recognize the value of things you highly prize. But the world has changed. The US is no longer a furniture manufacturing powerhouse. Everyday we’re taught to use disposable items — even furniture. We are trained to buy furniture every few years. That’s about how long it lasts and style change. Yet there are people, like us, who appreciate in well-made furniture.

      Reply
      • Charlotte Esworthy
        March 19, 2018 at 11:20 pm (9 months ago)

        Thank you for getting back to me. The piece you mentioned is exactly what I am looking for . It snaps into another piece inside the dresser. Surely it is not terribly visable, I would just prefer to be authentic. I will try where you recommended and appreciate your help. My hope is that when the time comes…tastes may have again changed and possibly a Granddaughter will value it…

        Reply
  15. Tom Ptaszkiewicz
    July 9, 2018 at 5:27 pm (5 months ago)

    In this article you picture a “cloth Press” I would call it a dresser for lack knowing any better. Well I just acquired what I would say is a complete matching set I have the cloth press, queen bed, 2 night stands and a very long dresser with single mirrors on both ends. I would consider them to be in pristine condition. Are you able to give me an approximate value to each piece individually sight unseen? They are not for sale, I am actually using them in my house. Although the person that just gave them to me did not recognized the name and I feel like she should receive some sort of compensation not knowing the value of what she was giving away.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      July 10, 2018 at 2:37 am (5 months ago)

      Hi, Tom — I was about to refer you to my How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth blog, but I see you’ve read it. I’m not an appraiser so I cannot give you estimates for White Furniture in your area. Sometimes I get really lucky and find a quality piece of furniture for an astonishingly good price. Other times I have to pass up the sale because my profit margin would be too thin. As I understand it, someone (family member/friend/stranger) gave you several pieces of quality bedroom furniture. Did she give them willingly and happily? If so, you may want to leave things alone. Imagine life a hundred years ago, in 1918. Most people, like now, didn’t have much in terms of money or material goods. If a relative died and bequeathed a piece of furniture (chair/table) to a friend or relative, it was a very kind gesture on their part. The sentiment often outweighed the market value. Your person, presumably is in good health, and I have no knowledge of her motives for giving you the furniture. Maybe she was motivated by kindness.

      Let me emphasize this point: most people today do not appreciate antique or even vintage furniture. We’ve shifted to a throw-away culture in which people expect to replace their furniture every few years. Today’s furniture is varied, readily available, and much less sturdy. But that’s where we are. Your person didn’t know the value, you claim. Neither do you until you undertake the various steps I suggest in the blog. Do you really want to go down that path? If your new furniture was a gift, there’s really no problem. Your donor may have wanted to downsize and you actually did her a favor by giving her the gift of space. Maybe she had tried selling it, didn’t have any bites, looked around and saw you. If you somehow feel obligated to provide recompense, can you do it in another way? An invitation to dinner to show your gratitude? Good luck.

      Reply

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