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Home > Publications > Historic New England Magazine > Winter 2000 > From Antique to Reproduction: Recreating the Past, Piece by Piece

From Antique to Reproduction: Recreating the Past, Piece by Piece


The finished reproduction manufactured by Southwood Furniture Corporation, one of the best-selling items in their line.


The original that sparked the process: the frame of a wing chair, c. 1810-20, from Rundlet-May House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

From furniture, fabric, wallpaper, and rugs, to jewelry, prints, and decorative accessories, SPNEA's Historic New England collection reproduces hundreds of objects from the museum's collection. These branded products are carried internationally in fine furniture and gift stores. How does it all happen?

The process begins with a manufacturer visiting SPNEA to look for objects that would make a strong addition to the existing line of products. Once an item is selected, the craftsman or manufacturer works from detailed photographs with exact measurements and descriptions to develop a prototype, which is then submitted to SPNEA's reproduction committee for review. When necessary, the committee will require modifications to the prototype, after which a new sample is submitted. Once approved, the product is ready for production, a process that can take from three to six months.

Meanwhile, SPNEA staff prepares supporting material to provide the purchasers with information about the significance and provenance of the original object. SPNEA oversees the presentation of the new line as it is launched at furniture and gift markets, where store owners and buyers place orders. Sales representatives then take the line on the road, selling Historic New England branded items and spreading the SPNEA name. Sales generate royalties, which help support SPNEA's historic properties, collections, and programs. Further, the program increases name recognition and enables growing numbers of consumers to use and enjoy fine classic designs from New England in their homes. A selection of reproductions and related merchandise will be featured in the spring issue of the magazine.

-Carol Bruce, Director of Licensing & Merchandising

From Antique to Reproduction: Recreating the Past, Piece by Piece