Stellar John Jelliff Pieces at Neal Auction

by John Werry on November 24, 2007

John Jelliff Pieces 716906 Stellar John Jelliff Pieces at Neal Auction
For Jelliff fans out there, it doesn’t get much better than what is coming up for sale during the December 1st and 2nd Neal Auction sale. Two tables and a parlor set that have been attributed to Jelliff will go up for bid.

The table to the right is identical to the Jelliff table in the Newark Museum that was bought by Frederick Tuttle in Chicago from W. W. Strong and still bears the retailer’s label. Tuttle purchased several pieces of parlor furniture from W. W. Strong, some of which are identical to other documented Jelliff pieces, so the table is “guilty” by association as being a Jelliff. The carved busts on the feet are exceptionally well-carved relative to some of the busts found on sofa arms where this figure is often seen. This museum table can be seen along with the other Tuttle furniture in the “Century of Revivals” booklet.

The table on the left is also attributed to Jelliff and is being done so due to the similarities in the carved bust on the skirt to other known Jelliff tables like the one on the right.

This rare sofa form in the bottom image is part of a 3-piece parlor set being sold that is attributed to Jelliff. An identical sofa is referred to as a tête-à-tête in the “Styles of American Furniture” book on page 32. Tête-à-têtes are usually small sofas, designed for conversation between two persons and many times were in the form of an ‘S’ shape. Tête-à-tête literally means “head-to-head” in French. The original Schrenkeisen catalog shows the use of the nomenclature “tête-à-tête” on sofas of 4 feet in length or less, while “sofa” was generally 5 feet or greater. Due to the small section in the middle of this sofa, it is probably only comfortable for two.

More info on the lots can be found in their listings:
Left Jelliff Table
Right Jelliff Table
Parlor Set

On a side note, I recently had an “a-ha” moment during the writing of the Jelliff bio that I’ve started here. I learned that Jelliff had fallen ill with a stomach problem and retired from his shop in 1860. 1860 is generally regarded as the earliest year that Renaissance Revival pieces began to be produced, so it is likely that Jelliff produced very, very few Renaissance Revival pieces (if any). That means that much of the Renaissance Revival furniture by Jelliff’s shop was produced after he retired, including the pieces above assuming they are from the 1870+ time period that these particular pieces have been dated to. Henry Miller managed John Jelliff and Co. starting in 1860.

If you are familiar with RSS, you can get updates on John Jelliff pieces for sale on Ebay automatically as they are listed. Just subscribe to my Jelliff RSS feed from the www.JohnJelliff.com site. If you are not familiar with RSS, you should become so – starting with this. I am revamping the auction pages which you can find links to on the left side of the Rare Victorian blog, adding maker biographies and RSS features. Several of them have the RSS subscribe feature already added including Belter, Roux, and Hunzinger with more coming.

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