Parker Knoll

Contemporary furniture from Parker Knoll, late 1950s

Parker Knoll furniture has always promoted values of quality and comfort. It was a brand people aspired to own. In the 50s and 60s, Parker Knoll embraced modern as well as traditional design. The firm specialised in chairs and sofas.

The history of the company goes back to Victorian times. Unlike most furniture manufacturers, which were started by cabinet makers, the founder of Parker Knoll, was an upholsterer. He began in the trade as an apprentice in 1862.

After several years in the furniture trade, Frederick Parker started his own business in 1889, manufacturing furniture from premises in Drummond Road, Hampstead, London. Frederick Parker then moved the business to High Wycombe, the centre of UK furniture manufacture in 1897, forming a limited company known as Parkers with his four sons in 1901.

Parkers specialised in the manufacture of sofas and chairs, sticking to Frederick Parker's roots in upholstery. The Parker-Knoll trade mark was introduced in 1931.

Parker Knoll Serino, 1950s

Like many firms, Parker-Knoll was involved in the manufacture of aircraft in the Second World War. After the War, it resumed furniture production, making Utility chairs. Once the Utility Scheme ended in the early 50s, Parker Knoll continued with the manufacture of traditional sofas and chairs, but like many other firms also experimented with contemporary style.

Their take on contemporary was always restrained and well proportioned. Parker Knoll aimed at a market where comfort and build quality were important, though the company was not afraid to embrace the contemporary style and mix and match approach to colour that was popular in the 50s.

At the same time, Parker Knoll continued with more traditional designs, such as the Company's famous wing chair, pictured left.


Parker Knoll Recliner, 1970s

The Recliner

The recliner was a new development in the 60s. Several manufacturers made a reclining arm chair suitable for relaxing after a hard day's work. The Parker Knoll recliner was one of the best. Their advertising, firmly rooted in the social mores of the day, suggested that the housewife could use it, but only whilst her husband was out at work. It could recline to an almost horizontal position.

The recliner became an instant hit and was a desirable object in homes of the sixties and seventies. A variation of this classic design is still made today.

Parker Knoll Statesman chair, 1960s

The Statesman

In the late sixties and early seventies a status symbol from the office found its way into the home: it was the black leather or vinyl office executive chair. Some people needed a desk and office chair at home; others thought what was good enough for the boardroom was good enough for the lounge.

Both Hille and Conran specialised in contract furniture. Some of their designs for office use also found their way into fashionable homes. The high backed swivel chair, suitable for the top executive's office, looked equally as good in the modern home. The swivel chair on pedestal base became a modern status symbol. It was seen as the chair of the man of the house. With its deep-buttoned, high back, swivel pedestal base, Parker Knoll's Statesman, right, looked the part.

Parker Knoll made good profits throughout the sixties. In 1961 it opened a furniture showroom in London. In 1962 the company bought new land at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and built a new factory as an additional production facility to its High Wycombe base. The new factory originally manufactured chairs and sofas under the Cornwell-Norton brand.

Parker Knoll sofas, 1970s

Parker Knoll in the 70s

Parker Knoll retained its status as a luxury aspirational brand in the 70s. The firm was able to work five days over the period of the three day week because its factories had their own generators.

This advertisement, left, from the early seventies tried to persuade people to make the extra sacrifice needed to own a Parker Knoll suite and emphasised that it need not be as expensive as they thought.

Parker Knoll fabrics, 1970s

The textiles business ran alongside the furniture business from the late 1940s onwards. Parker Knoll Textiles made furnishing fabric used in Parker Knoll and other upholstered furniture.

Parker Knoll continued to make profits in the early years of the 80s, when many other British furniture firms struggled. In 1981 it bought struggling cabinet makers Nathan for 650,000.

The Parker Knoll brand is still in business today, promoting similar values of quality and comfort that saw it become a respected household name in the past.

See www.parkerknoll.co.uk for more details.

Your comments

"Parker Knoll today is not the same company and no longer produce spares for the 'old range', the brand name was sold in 2005. I am looking for new rocker bushes for my Statesman chairs and they don't make them!!!!;" Michael Hawkesworth

"i remember going to vist my great grandfarther with the rest of the family and he was always sat in this rather lovely parker knoll chair! he was never out of it , that was his chair and no one else was aloud to sit in it! just shows that it must have been a gd chair!" Frances Keenan

"Hello, I wonder if you could help, i was left two small chairs which are very comfortable. The model is PK 1022-7. They need re-covering but i am interested to find out more about them as i have never seen this model anywhere before. Many thanks, " Mike Seaward

Hi Mike, A chair of similar model number sold on eBay recently. The seller dated it 1970, although I can't confirm it was the same design. Retrowow

"I have 2 Parker Knoll chairs that have Parker Knoll registered trademark on them but don't have a style number. They do have a small plaque that says 'Made in W.A. by Boans. European labour only' They have wooden arms and coil spring back and base. Could somebody please tell me something about them." lesley rasheed

"Hi,i have 6 Parker-knoll chairs stamped PARKER-KNOLL MODEL NO.P.K.751/2MK1 WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT THEIR VALUE------We bought them second hand in the 1960's" stan burgess

]

"i have 2 parker knoll chairs maked mpk1140 what are worth" dickerson

"Hi,

It's very difficult to get an idea of value with out seeing the piece. Condition is everything.

The best way to value any piece of furniture is to look at eBay completed listings. That will give you an idea of how much similar pieces sell for." retrowow 22/04/2010
"I have an unusual chair for sale, all timber with curved back and arms, it has a stamp on the underside that appears to read the number: 3524 and ten a stamp that reads:CC41 i can send photos please help regards simon" Simon 21/06/2010
"i have seen a 1970s swivel rocking chair in a second hand shop. the man has told me it is a parker knoll chair - how can i be sure it is? thanks" karen 17/07/2010
"I've got an unusual styled Parker Knoll rocking chair inherited from my husbands grandmother 25 years ago. It has got this registered trademark Model No P.K. 1031/4. Please do you have some information about value and which year it was made. Many thanks Claire Dean" Claire Dean 31/10/2010
"I have been given an old, what looks like a 1930s Parker Knol sofa with drop down arms. It has a number and make on the underneath frame - PK743.

I would like to het it properly restored as it has sentimental value, but I can't even find any info about the model. Would you know how old it is?

thanks" Joanna Hannam 07/11/2010
"We bought a Cornwell Norton brand 3 piece suite in 1971. It has been reupholstered once and seen 2 boisterous children grow up. We still have the suite but have been unable to bring it with us to our new house as it is too large but still very comfortable. I understand cornwell norton were part of the Parker knoll group and base in Ireland. Is this correct?" muriel chadwick 09/11/2010
"Hi, I have just purchased a parker knoll armchair on e-bay,it was advertised as a "genuine parker knoll armchair in excellent condition" should it have a parker knoll brand stamp on it? as mine does not.it has parker knoll on fabric that covers seat springs. is this usual? Kind Regards. Cliff" clifford Ford 26/01/2011
"Hello, I was left two Parker Knoll uphlstered chairs by my aunt they are model 950 and this reference is engraved into the wooden underneath slats.
I can not find anything about them : can you help? are they worth re covering etc. Debra" Debra Williams 25/06/2011
"Hello. I am looking for a second hand, good condition swivel, rocking arm chair, in white, cream or black leather.

Do you have one on offer?

Thank you for any help that you can give me." meneca richardson 15/08/2011
"Hi. I have a chair by Parker Knoll (PK 754) . Can you provide any information as to the original wood colour / type and fabric colour / type as my chair is looking a bit sad and needs restoring. Many thanks. Trev" Trevor Harris 04/09/2011
"I am looking to buy a vintage, fully upholstered Parker Knoll wingback but I want the one with "straight" NOT Queen Anne- style front legs. Are you able to tell the model number I should be searching for? Many thanks" Terry 07/10/2011
"Hello! I recently bought a Parker Knoll chair and (seperately) a matching sofa. I have no idea how old either of them are, would you be able to tell me? The number on the bottom of the chair is 757/8/9/60 mk2. Thanks." Sukie 07/10/2011
"I have 3 parker knoll armless chairs which when purchased were upholstered in yellow red and blue covers and could be put together to make a setee.thepk trade mark is engraved with model no on frame of each chair 945/7 mk.2.
they have since been recovered in brown and gold draylon. can anyone put a value on these.THANKS" bill smyth 24/10/2011
"HI, i bought a parker knoll armchair model PK752 in the second hand shop for a fiver, wud love to recover it in a fabric thats original, so cud you forward me a link or signpost me to some info, plus wud love to know how much it originally cost and how much its worth now....probably a fiver lol
Many Thanks Anne-Marie xx" Anne-Marie McAleenan 22/03/2012
"I have recently bought a Parker Knoll sofa 743. I would like to buy another. Do you know of a dealer who might have one?
Thanks Linda." Linda Russell 15/04/2012
"I have a fibreglass shell swivel chair, model pk 939. I believe it was manufactured in 1959, and had a Danish designer, subsequently winning the company a design award that year. In the 15 years I,ve owned it, I have found no more information or come across another model. Can anyone provide any more detail?

Thank you." keith oliver 04/06/2012
"Hi Keith,
It's definitely Parker Knoll with a PK model number. I think 1959 might be a bit early for a fibre glass chair from Park Knoll. They went for conservative rather than cutting edge modern. Could it have been made in the mid sixties? Do you know the name of the designer?

best regards" Steven 05/06/2012
"Hi Steven,

Thanks for the response, I know it suprised me. The date was given to me by Parker Knoll from the PK number before the company went belly up' a number of years ago. The date was further confirmed from a list of design awards from 1959 which referenced the model number. Unfortunately, after writing down the designer, I misplaced it and have not found either the name or original list. It was not someone I recognised through? I did see a sofa in the same style from a late 50's furniture exhibition, again I can't seem to find that again. A mystery indeed!

Regards
Keith" keith oliver 07/06/2012
"Hi - I have recently bought a parker knoll suite comprising a three seater and chair from the Gavotte range and another chair which has the model no - 938, I understand this is a malton chair and was one of a series of special edition chairs? Do you have any information about these models as I cannot find very much on the internet. They are all in fantastic condition as the original upholstery has been under loose covers since they were bought back in the 60s. Thanks" Penny 17/07/2012
"Hi , I would just like to know the value of a Parker knoll chair , model number 713. Any info regarding date etc would be great too. Thanks" Pip 04/09/2012
"Hello, i've brought a chair from a charity shop, a bit bash up and the fabric ruined. But it was so comfy that i took and started to strip the fabric off so i can re upholstery and notice its a Parker Knoll model no PK 748/9. Could you please tell me what the chair range call and when its was made etc. Is there a value on this? Regards" C Frampton 10/09/2012
"I just wanted to let you know that Frederick Parker was my great-grandfather. Philip Harvey Parker was my grandfather and one of Frederick's younger sons. Philip married Linda Lovelace Ribbons and they had five daughters: Louise, Molly, Josephine, Audrey and (Gwendoline)Mary. Mary was my mother. She married my father while he was serving in Canadian Army in England during the second world war. They had five children; four sons and one daughter..me. I know I have many cousins in England and possibly worldwide. I would love to know who and where they are and if any of them are aware of their Canadian family. I would appreciate any information you can tell me.

sincerely and anxiously awaiting your response I am,

Shirley Ann Meyers Moore" Shirley Moore 12/09/2012
"I have been searching for ages for a Parker Knoll orthopaedic chair, preferably in light coloured wood. Can anybody point me in the right direction?" Sheila McMichael 13/10/2012
"Hello,my name is andrew bennett,i was one of the last apprentices at Parker Knoll.
I renovate and buy and sell Parker Knoll chairs from my workshop,i always have a selection of finished and ready to renovate chair available to look at.
I also supply new foams,armcaps and headpillows as to Parker Knoll spec.
Thanks andrew bennett" Andrew Bennnett Upholstery(Chipping Norton) 19/01/2013
"I have two gorgeoud Cornwell-Norton sofas with drop-down ends, dating from the 1960s. One of the castors has broken. The mechanism is different from those one can buy generally today. The castor has a hole in it which fits onto a prong on the bottom of the sofa - nowadays they are the other way around. Can anyone point me to a source of the type of replacement castors I need?" Linda Savage 03/02/2013
"my mother has left me a 1930s arm chair with sprung seat and base, wooden arms that are moulded into a rounded shape and 4, 2 x 2 legs approx. in dark wood and green upholstery, has it got any value for re-sale please" mrs slater 11/02/2013
"Hi, It's hard to tell without seeing it. Parker Knoll chairs in good condition sell for around £50. If you check eBay completed listings for something similar, that should give you a good idea. If it's tatty and needs recovering it would be worth a lot less. Best regards" Steven 12/02/2013
"Both my statesman egg swing/rocking arm chairs need replacement base spring units. Can anyone help?u" Meryl gregory 18/02/2013
"I have a rocking chair which I bought about 25 yrs ago. It has the number PK 973 4 in the wood both sides but not on the webbing. Is this usual? It was advertised as being recently french polished and reupholstered. Recently I have been trying to value it but a lot of the chairs I have looked at seem to have the Parker Knoll name in the webbing. I would appreciate some advice. Thanks. Jacquie." Jacqueline 07/03/2013
"i have two parkerknoll kids chairs that are called the prince and princess chairs.the model number on prince chair is pk 1108-9. i still have the original card for the chairs from the old pk company.would anyone know what their worth would be." michael 25/04/2013
"I have a Parker Knoll, Model no PK 733. MK2.
WHAT IS IT WORTH." Jayne Osborne 13/05/2013
"Hi,

I was wondering whether you'd be able to tell me when a PK two-seater sofa with a stamp PK 720-MK 3 was made.

Many thanks!" SR 16/08/2013
"hi

i have two parker knoll possible fireside winged backed P.K.976 with two matching foot stools 977C in blue floral print. In excellent condition, was just wondering what they might be worth" mel kelly 07/10/2013
"Hi

I have a Parker Knoll chair no PK 1146-1150, covered in dark green velour with wooden arms and matching, padded headrest. It has battery-operated lumbar massage built into the back. Just wondering what it might be worth on Ebay." J. Townsend 09/10/2013
"Does anyone know where I can get some PK fabric Utah Blue to make some more cushion covers for my Columbine sofa. It was bought about 20 years ago

Thanks for any help" Sally Woodhead 24/10/2013
"Hi I am looking to sell my Parker Knoll chair model number Pk748/9. It has been re upholstered in cream cord fabric and is in good condition except for a few scratches. Please could you give me an idea how old it is and how much it may be worth as I cannot see the same on eBay

Many thanks" Wendy 06/11/2013
"Can anyone tell me if Parker Knoll made a children's size black vinyl Statesman swivel chair, I had one as a child and have still got it. I can not find another like it on the internet, it was bought for me in the very early 1970,s. And is an exact replica of the standard size chair. Many Thanks." Deborah Davies 29/12/2013
"Hi.
I have recently purchased two Parker Knolls - pk951 chairs.
They are currently covered in blue fabric, and only the wooden feet are bare.
I wonder if the chairs have previously been covered, as I have seen some PK chairs with bare wood on the arms.
If anyone has any information on these PK chairs or images of chairs of the same model please let me know as I would like to learn more about them, also if anyone knows how old they might be?
Thanks so much, will look forward to hearing more! f" ff 15/01/2014
"I have some wall and corner units with parker knoll stickers but they look like Nathan furniture. Anyone know the connection? Its been puzzling since I inherited a Nathan sideboard which looks the same but doesn't seem as good quality. Just curious really
Lyn" lynne marsden-mcardle 30/03/2014
Name
E-mail (Will not appear online)
Comment
To prevent automated Bots form spamming, please enter the text you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
»
 
 

Retrowow

Your guide to vintage and retro