• American Furniture Collecting Guide
American Furniture Collecting Guide
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Affleck, Thomas (d. 1795)

Cabinetmaker born in Scotland and trained in England. Emigrated to Philadelphia in 1763. Well-known for his fine Chippendale furniture, Affleck is considered by many scholars to be the leader of the Philadelphia cabinetmakers. A successful businessman, Affleck kept detailed records and account books through which many of his furniture pieces can be traced to the wealthy and most important citizens of Philadelphia. Characteristics of his style include Marlborough legs and elaborate carving.

Allison, Michael (1773-1855)

Working in the first half of the 19th century, Michael Allison was one of the most prolific cabinetmakers of New York City. Allison is associated with Duncan Phyfe, who was not only his contemporary, but also his neighbor. With a variety of labels, Michael Allison promoted himself as a superior cabinetmaker consistently using the best materials, offering the lowest prices, and executing all of his orders with punctuality.

Ash, Gilbert (1717-1785)

American cabinetmaker known for producing outstanding Chippendale furniture from New York City. Because of his expert craftsmanship, his work was often considered of Philadelphia origin rather than New York. Although he was quite successful in the making of chairs, Ash produced an assortment of furniture for important clients, such as Sir William Johnson and members of the Van Rensselaer family.

Barry, Joseph B., (1757-1838)

Born in Ireland, Joseph Barry learned the cabinetmaking trade in London before opening a shop in Philadelphia. Barry left Philadelphia in 1773 to escape the epidemic of yellow fever that was rampant in the city. He moved out of the city to Savannah, Georgia where he advertised his cabinetmaking shop. Barry returned to Philadelphia in 1798 where he continued making furniture with his son and partner Joseph.

Bernard & Jugiez

Master carvers known to have worked with the most successful cabinetmakers in Philadelphia, including William Wayne and Thomas Affleck. Nicholas Bernard and Martin Jugiez were London trained immigrant carvers working in Philadelphia in the latter half of the 18th century. Distinguishing details of their work include acanthus leaves with a deep, V-shaped central passage accentuated by a four-point punch and shell-carved drawers with five stop-fluted lobes centering a carved rosette. Architectural elements and furniture attributed to these carvers often exhibit a star-punched ground.

Camp, William (w. 1802-1823)

Advertising as a cabinetmaker and an upholsterer, William Camp was an important maker of Federal furniture in Baltimore, Maryland. Although he made and sold elegant and expensive furniture, the bulk of his business was in the selling of mahogany and other imported fine woods in large quantities. He was a meticulous record keeper, and his records show that he made furniture for wealthy, prominent citizens of Baltimore, the Baltimore City Council Chambers, and even the White House.

Deming & Bulkley

While a number of New Yorkers sent venture cargo to Charleston, it was the firm of Brazilia Deming (1781-1854) and Erastus Bulkley (1798-1872) that established New York City as the primary supplier of high style classical furniture to Charleston. Through documents and surviving examples of their furniture, this important commercial and cultural exchange has been documented in detail. After finding success with venture cargo, this firm established a retail storefront on King Street, where they continued to cater to the upper end of the furniture market, selling classical furniture to wealthy Charlestonians from 1818 into the 1840s.

Dunlap Family

Working in New Hampshire in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Dunlap family produced fine pieces of furniture in a variety of styles, all decidedly individualistic. Two of the more famous members of the family are Lieutenant Samuel Dunlap (1752-1830), known for his fine pieces of maple furniture; and Major John Dunlap (1784-1869), to whom certain cherrywood pieces with inlay are attributed. Egg and dart molding is characteristic of many pieces of furniture attributed to the Dunlaps as well as combinations of scrolls, open interlaced pediments, and carved intaglio fans.

Frothingham, Jr., Benjamin (1734-1809)

Working in Charlestown, Massachusetts from 1754 until his death, Benjamin Frothingham, Jr. is known for his outstanding block-front furniture. Although rounder than the Newport block-fronts, Frothingham’s furniture compares favorably with those of the Townsend-Goddard group. Notable characteristics of his furniture include the bird’s claws of the claw-and-ball feet turned backward in a diagonal line with the claw holding the ball somewhat lightly, a delicate ogival bracket foot, and for corner finials a crisp corkscrew rising from an urn.

James Gillingham

James Gillingham (born 1736) was a Philadelphia furniture maker and active 1765-1770 in the Chippendale style.

Goddard Family

A Quaker family working in Newport, Rhode Island, the Goddards were active during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The most famous member of the family is John Goddard (1723-1785) who was an apprentice of Job Townsend. Goddard then married Townsend’s daughter, and the two families formed an intimate working relationship and close friendship. John Goddard himself is known for beautiful block-front, shell-carved furniture of the Chippendale style, as well as for creating undercut talons on claw-and-ball feet.

Gostelowe, Jonathan (1744-1795)

A Philadelphia cabinetmaker of Swedish origin, Jonathan Gostelowe was well known and highly respected although only a few marked examples of his furniture are known to us today. An educated man, he produced quality mahogany furniture in the Chippendale style for the wealthy clientele of Philadelphia.

Herter Brothers

Among the most influential decorators and furniture designers of the late 19th century, Gustave and Christian Herter decorated the homes of the wealthy, including New York’s Vanderbilt Mansion and Jay Gould’s Lyndhurst at Tarrytown, New York. Gustave (b. 1830) emigrated from Germany to New York City in 1848 and worked with his half-brother Christian (1840-1883) from 1860 until 1870 when Christian took over the firm until his retirement in 1880. A variety of Victorian styles, favoring the Aesthetic or Anglo-Japanese and the Eastlake found their way into Herter furniture with such special features as complex marquetry, inlaid tile, gilding, and ebonization.

R.J. Horner & Co.

The firm of R. J. Horner & Company, established in 1886 on East 23rd Street in New York City, produced an assortment of furniture, predominantly in the Aesthetic Movement style. They often identified their products with porcelain plaques nailed to the individual pieces. Horner first advertised imitation bamboo made of maple in 1890 as the Japanese aesthetic became popular as a result of the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Lannuier, Charles Honore (1779-1819)

Trained in Paris, Lannuier learned first-hand the new designs and decorative treatments of the Empire style. Drawing upon the archaeological discoveries made after the French conquests in Egypt and Italy, Lannuier and other craftsmen adapted these ancient motifs into their designs for contemporary furnishings. He came to New York in 1803 and promoted himself as a "Cabinetmaker from France," employing French craftsmen in his shop. He was smart enough to incorporate in his designs the styles that were currently in vogue in New York. He noted the success enjoyed by the rival shop of Duncan Phyfe in Anglo-inspired furniture and sought to combine his French aesthetic with New York’s taste for Anglo-inspired furniture.

Marcotte, Leon (d. circa 1880)

Emigrating to New York City from France in 1854, Leon Marcotte soon became a fashionable cabinetmaker in the popular French style. He is known for his elaborate furniture pieces in the Renaissance and Rococo Revival styles with rich, intricate marquetry, including butterfly motifs in shaded wood and stars in mother-of-pearl.

McIntire, Samuel (1757-1811)

Samuel McIntire is not only recognized for his superb pieces of carved furniture in the Hepplewhite and Sheraton manner, but also for his brilliance in architecture and building. Not generally thought of as a cabinetmaker, he excelled as a master carver of mantels, doorways, and interior trim. McIntire did not limit himself to designing mansions, as he also decorated the interiors and designed appropriate furniture, especially sofas and chairs, for his beautiful homes. Samuel McIntire used many motifs throughout his carving, but the use of a carved basket of fruit on the tablet was his hallmark.

Phyfe, Duncan (1768-1854)

Born in Scotland, Duncan Phyfe emigrated to America in 1784 before moving to Manhattan in 1790. He is best known for his French Empire and American Empire styles, but his styles also range from Federal to English Regency. Phyfe made few pieces of furniture, which included chairs, sofas, tables and sideboards, as most pieces were made by his workshop or by other cabinetmaking workshops. The lyre was a decorative motif favored by Phyfe and was included on numerous pieces of furniture. Reeding, another decorative element, can be found on almost every piece of Phyfe furniture.

Pottier & Stymus

The New York City firm of Auguste Pottier & William Stymus were elite furniture-makers and decorators catering to the wealthy class in the second half of the 19th century. Their clients included John D. Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, the Plaza hotel, and the White House. They produced a variety of large and richly carved furniture mostly in the Renaissance and Egyptian Revival styles. Furniture from Pottier & Stymus is frequently identified with the P & S stamp.

Randolph, Benjamin (1721-1791)

Working in Philadelphia as a fine cabinetmaker, Randolph’s furniture is characterized by its very elaborate and rich carving. He is sometimes referred to as ‘the Chippendale of colonial America’ for his exquisite examples of Chippendale-style furniture. One of his clients was Thomas Jefferson, for whom he made the lap desk on which Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Roux, Alexander (1813-1886)

Working in New York City, French cabinetmaker Alexander Roux specialized in the Renaissance, Gothic, and Rococo Revival styles. Roux opened his furniture business in 1837 and was later joined by his brother Frederick and his son Alexander J. After moving to several locations throughout the city, Roux’s shop finally closed for business in 1898.

Savery, William (1721-1788)

William Savery was an outstanding Philadelphia chairmaker and cabinetmaker who worked in the Queen Anne and highly ornate Chippendale styles. Savery was known for his elaborate lowboys and highboys, as well as for some of his simple maple and mahogany chairs and chests-of-drawers. A Quaker working particularly for the Quaker trade, Savery produced some of the most sophisticated furniture in colonial America.

Seymour, John & Thomas

John Seymour (1738-1818) and his son Thomas (1771-1848) emigrated from England to Portland, Maine in 1785, then moved to Boston in 1794. They introduced to Boston the refinement of English standards of craftsmanship, veneer use, and neoclassical design. Characteristic features of their furniture include robin’s egg blue paint used on compartment interiors, inlaid pilaster forms, sliding tambour shutters, inlaid festoons on reeded tambour slides, and a lunette or half-ring pattern inlay on top edges and skirts.

Shaw, John (1745-1829)

John Shaw, an accomplished and prolific cabinetmaker, arrived in Annapolis, Maryland in 1763 and by 1770 had established himself as a cabinetmaker on Church Street. As an English-trained craftsman working in the Federal and Chippendale styles, he was known to use blocked feet on his furniture, which is so typical of English workmen. John Shaw is also known as one of the only southern cabinetmakers to use chestnut for the lining of drawers.

Spooner & Fitts

Located in Athol, Massachusetts, this rural shop produced elegant Federal furniture and Windsor chairs between 1808 and 1813. Alden Spooner (1784-1877) and George Fitts (1785-1866) were fastidious and incorporated inlay and ivory fittings into their graceful objects while producing fashionable furniture without proximity to an urban center, and as such, their products were remarkably stylish.

Townsend Family

A Quaker family working in Newport, Rhode Island during the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Townsends are legends in Newport cabinetmaking. Job Townsend (1699-1765), the elder of the Townsend group, moved from Oyster Bay on Long Island to Newport in 1707 where he started his cabinetmaking shop. His son, John Townsend (1732-1809), continued in the family business and began an intimate working relationship with John Goddard, his cousin-in-law. Noted for its block-and-shell ornament, finely executed dove-tails, and use of high-quality mahogany, the Townsend-Goddard School, as it became known when the two families merged, produced some of the most revered and uniquely American designs of colonial American furniture.

Tufft, Thomas (1740-1788)

In late 18th century Philadelphia, Tufft was one of the city’s most prosperous cabinetmakers. While his shop was not as large or prolific as that of his contemporaries Benjamin Randolph and Thomas Affleck, his rank was likely that of their equal. Elegance, grace, and delicate carving characterize Thomas Tufft’s furniture. He typically chose a restrained opposing "C" scroll on the knees and a variation of this design can be seen on most of the objects attributed to his shop. . Tufft holds the record for Philadelphia furniture, the Edwards-Harrison Family pier table, when it sold at Christie’s for $4,620,000 (January 1990).

Wayne, William

William Wayne had a cabinetmaking shop in Philadelphia during the late 18th century. His son joined him in the business, first as an apprentice and later as a partner. Working in the traditional Philadelphia practice, Wayne used only high-quality mahogany in his furniture.

Wooten, William S. (1835-1907)

An Indiana minister turned furniture maker, Wooten is well known for starting the Wooten Desk Company, which manufactured furniture for schools, offices and churches. In 1874, Wooten patented a group of elaborate walnut folding patent desks in the Renaissance Revival style with dozens of individual compartments for storage and organization. These desks were essentially miniature offices and came in four different grades---Ordinary, Standard, Extra and Superior---and could be ordered in three different sizes.