Howard Miller Associates the poor man’s Merrow furniture !
Every so often we find original late 1960s and 1970s cheap versions of Merrow Associates cocktail trolleys and occasional tables . Merrow never seemed to have labelled their furniture but the lesser known Howard Miller Associates did . Merrow had quite a large range of products all produced in small batches to order , and all were extremely expensive back in the day .
Little is known about Howard Miller , but they were obviously a lot smaller and only seemed to have produced a small range of cocktail trolleys and occasional tables . All are in the Merrow style but much lighter in weight and nowhere near the quality . Not only did they copy the Merrow style , but by adding the Associates to their name they seem to have copied the branding idea as well ! There is also a better known Howard Miller in the American clock maker who are famous for the iconic George Nelson wall clocks .
A lot of their pieces have lost the original sticky labels over the years , so some won’t have the name attached when they come up for sale today . Some people will no doubt think they have a piece of Merrow , but the weight of the chromed steel and the construction of their pieces will tell you otherwise .
We’ve recently acquired a 1976 Office supply catalogue with a half page showing the pieces they were making at the time . It doesn’t mention Howard Miller by name , but the pieces are recognisable to those who have seen labelled pieces . Luckily the catalogue comes with prices so we can get an idea of comparative costs . Unlikely as it seems but drinks trolleys were considered to be potential office furniture in the mid 1970s !
Available with teak or rosewood veneers to any wood surfaces it’s interesting to note that rosewood was only 10% more expensive than teak for this range , whereas in the same catalogue Danish rosewood desks were about 50% more expensive than the same model in teak . Maybe the small amounts of veneers needed for the Howard Miller pieces meant that the extra costs were not that great .
The other interesting fact was that the all chrome and glass nest of tables was far more expensive than the cantilevered trolleys . The nest was priced new at £92.30 ( about £800 today ) , whereas the trolley with rosewood base would have set you back just over £60 ( about £500 today ) . In todays vintage market we’d reckon that the trolley would retail for about £350-£450 , and the nest only around what it cost new over 40 years ago !
In the 1960s and 70s good quality chromed steel was extremely expensive to make and was priced accordingly , whereas today for some reason it’s quite cheap to produce and sell .
In the early 1970s Norwegian companies produced some lovely leather and chrome top quality chairs designed by Ingmar Relling and others such as the Falcon chair . They were extremely expensive and sold in small numbers until they had the clever idea of replacing the heavy chrome with cheap bent wood or in some cases with lightweight tubular chrome . Chairs like Rellings Siesta chair were the result and sales rocketed as they were stylish but so much cheaper .