Up at auction is a George Hunzinger stamped chair, patented in 1866. This chair design is depicted on page 51 of “The Furniture of George Hunzinger, Invention and Innovation in Nineteenth-Century America” by Barry Harwood. The chair is refinished and reupholstered and exhibits Renaissance Revival details.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, many Merklen pieces get misattributed to Hunzinger due to the spiral turnings that both makers were famous for. Hunzinger frequently stamped his pieces which makes it often easy for us 140+ years later to identify his work. Merklen pieces were never stamped and there were no catalogs to survive for us to use as a reference.
A good reference for Merklen pieces is in the article published in the May 2005 issue of the Magazine Antiques by Paul Tucker titled “Moorish Fretwork Furniture”. You will see several tables and chairs in there by Merklen that often get attributed to Hunzinger. You will also read about Moses Younglove Ransom, another underappreciated spiral furniture maker and “designer of interiors”. Paul Tucker’s article mentions a few interesting facts on these makers, such as that Ransom’s moorish spiral panels were incorporated into Merklen furniture pieces, so apparently the two shops had collaborated. Another design element, the claw-and-ball feet always had wooden balls on Merklen tables – never glass. Also, have you seen those grotesque brass brackets supporting the second table surface on parlor tables? This is a trademark of Merklen. According to Paul, Merklen’s were actually bronze per the American Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer.
Armed with Barry’s book and Paul Tucker’s article, you can become much better at properly identifying the work of these great makers. There is a Hunzinger blog done by Emeriol that is also a good Hunzinger reference. Paul Tucker is working on a book about Moorish Fretwork and we hope to profile it here when he’s done. Maybe I can ask Paul if we can borrow his photos from the article to post here for reference…..
As a side note I’d like to compliment and thank the many “furniture friends”, authors, and antique dealers that I have become acquainted with in the short time I’ve done Rare Victorian. The sharing of information between us makes it better for everyone, and those that hold their “trade secrets” close to their vest are missing out on a great sharing community. There is nothing to lose by not sharing your information, only new associations, friends and customers to never gain. I ask that everyone “share” by posting comments to my blog entries or write me directly if you have something to pass on.
Oh yeah, the chair…. it starts at $100 with anticipated range of $1,200-$1,700, ending on August 5th.