Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Plycraft Chair

I went off to an auction a few weeks ago and came across this chair pictured below. I know, you're thinking what I was thinking, Eames chair! But in reality it's a Plycraft chair. Plycraft??? I had no idea, so now of course, I had to discover what I can about Plycraft. Here is the 2003 obituary for Paul R Goldman the owner of the company. Oh by the way, the chair sold for $300 and even had the original Plycraft brochure with it. Do any of you own Plycraft furniture?


Paul R. Goldman
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Paul R. Goldman, 91, formerly of Andover, Mass., and president of Plycraft, Inc., in Lawrence, Mass., died Aug. 12, 2003, in Los Angeles.
Mr. Goldman graduated from the Boys Latin School in Boston, Brookline, Mass., High School, Class of 1931, and the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Economics, Class of 1935.

He married Sylvia Kravath of Dorchester, Mass., and Hull, Mass., in 1935. They were married close to 60 years before she died in March 1995.

The Goldmans moved to the Lawrence area in 1937 and resided at 8 Joyce Terrace in Andover from 1941 to 1994. Mr. Goldman bought the Joyce Castle Estate on North Main Street in Shawsheen Village in Andover and developed the Castle Heights neighborhood on that land.

Mr. Goldman started building his own sailboats and then went into the woodworking business in Lawrence. In his initial business, the Plywood Corp., Mr. Goldman developed Plytube, a molded plywood tubing. With this, he designed and manufactured Plytube products for the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean conflict, including masts for the signal corps and dummy aircraft decoys among other things. After the war, he started making molded plywood furniture and in 1953, started Plycraft, Inc., in Lawrence, making fiberglass-covered boats. He later went back to plywood-molded furniture and continued in that business until 1994, when he and his wife moved to Florida.

Mr. Goldman is considered "the father of plywood technology" and a pioneer in the furniture industry. He was described as one of the "Horatio Algers" of his time in a Newsweek Magazine article in November 1962. The same article noted the installation of his chairs at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Mr. Goldman designed his own machinery to mold plywood veneer into complex shapes, creating beautiful and very comfortable furniture. His first molded chair was made for Herman Miller, then he continued to manufacture all of his own designs.

Mr. Goldman designed thousands of tables and chairs during what is known as the "mid-century modern period". Several of his chairs, including the "Mr. Chair" and the "Cherner Chair", have become classics of this period and are now sold as valuable antiques of that area. Numerous articles have been published about Mr. Goldman. He has been noted in books about this period, and some of his chairs have been on exhibition in museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago. His most famous chair, "The Rockwell", was first produced in 1956 and is thus named as it appeared in a painting by the eminent artist, Norman Rockwell, on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in September 1961. Another famous chair, coined "The Swinger" because of its shape, has also become a classic. It continues to be recommended by various medical specialties because of its ability to raise the legs above the user's chest, truly the first real healthy ergonomic chair. Companies all over the world have copied this design. Both "The Rockwell" and variations of "The Swinger: are still manufactured in the U.S.

You might also want to check out this interesting article in Collector's weekly about furniture designer Kem Weber! Kem Weber the mid-century designer who paved the way for Ikea


  1. Wow, interesting! Now I'm wondering about my grandpa's chair, which my grandma still has. I've always assumed it was an Eames chair but now I'm wondering if it could be a Plycraft. Unfortunately I'm across the country from it so I can't examine it. I'm curious now though!

  2. Just found you via Kim Bombshell and Temperamental Broad. I like you. ;-)

  3. We love our Plycraft chair, one of our fabulous craigslist finds. It's the most comfortable chair in the house and we can use it as long as the cat is not! Love your blog!

  4. Tasha...It would be marked under the seat with the Plycraft seal...if it's a plycraft! These are just as collectible as Eames chairs but tend not to be as expensive to buy.

    Jewlover2...hahaha yup it's me MaryDeluxe the vintage button pusher/pot stirrer! hehehehe

    Wendy...Thanks, now one of those chairs would be a pretty nice find!


  5. We have a plymodern bedroom set - itscordovan and complete, including, I believe the original mirror. Several of the pieces (dresser, nightstand and chest) have the original stickers. Does anyone know anything about these pieces. There are several Paul Goldman desks and one chest in white lacquer but nothing else that we've been able to find.

  6. I worked at plycraft in around 1978-1979 high school job dad Robert proctor sr was my boss in mill room ... That chair an ottoman sold for over 700$ when new .... I recently tattooed an old co-worker who gave me the same chair ...less he ottoman .... The place was a dump and Goldman would claim bankruptcy every time bills got high .... He screwed my father out of his retirement so after collecting social security for a year he decided to go back to work for plycraft and died in the mill of a heart attack about 6 months later ..... With in a year the place caught fire ...because Goldman didn't want the EPA to grab him he buried 50 or so 55 gallon drums of asitone in a room the cemented it shut .... The explosion when the fire made it to that room leveled what was left of the mill so ended plycraft of lawrence ....
    Reverend Jamey proctor

  7. Also it was my father who worked there most of his life that Goldman would bring a design to and say how can we make this and he would break it down so that an idiot making minimum wage could build it