Robert Mitchell Furniture Co. Roman Arm Chair – 1904

by John Werry on June 23, 2008

robert mitchell roman arm chair1 Robert Mitchell Furniture Co. Roman Arm Chair   1904
I purchased a chair a year or so ago at a local auction to go along with my Horner hall chairs. I had previously seen this chair attributed to R.J. Horner and, considering the griffin carvings, I never thought twice about that attribution (like I now instinctively do with everything). It turns out that it was made by the Robert Michell Furniture Co. around 1904 as it is in their catalog that I recently acquired (image above). It is their model #66-1334a, “Roman Arm Chair”, solid mahogany, $74. It was also available as #66-1334 in quartered Oak, golden or “Antwerp” finish, $64 (I wonder what Antwerp implies color-wise). The upholstered seat was covered in leather. Mine is below.robert mitchell roman arm chair 20081 Robert Mitchell Furniture Co. Roman Arm Chair   1904


The griffin arms and the finials on the chair are distinctively carved and you will see these elements independent of one another on other pieces and these can help distinguish Robert Mitchell pieces. There is a possibility that R.J. Horner made these chairs for Robert Mitchell and I leave that possibility out there, but barring any new evidence beyond this catalog, I will heretofore assume they were produced by Mitchell.

By the way, Robert Mitchell is one and the same as the Mitchell from Mitchell & Rammelsberg. The company was renamed Robert Mitchell Co. in 1881. Robert Mitchell biography.

The longer I research furniture, the more I see how dramatically lopsided attributions are made to the incorrect side. There is a pandemic in my mind to the point where attributions are getting worthless. Take a look at the following image from the same Robert Mitchell catalog. For those of you who follow R.J. Horner furniture, how many times have we seen this Mitchell table labeled Horner?

In one of my next few posts, I will show you how to identify an authentic R.J. Horner hall chair.

If you are interested in looking to buy Robert Mitchell or R.J. Horner furniture, there is frequently a decent choice of inventory here on here on Ebay. (though attributions may be suspicious, so look carefully)

mitchell horner table1 Robert Mitchell Furniture Co. Roman Arm Chair   1904

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

drew49 June 23, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Hi!
“Lopsided” is an excellent description of current state of attributions. What ever happened to the phrase “in the manner of?” It seems that using the words “in the manner of” leaves the door open for further research. As you so well know, there is SO MUCH info we have NOT yet uncovered about Victorian Furniture and its makers.

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Charles June 23, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Looking forward to your step by step analysis of how to ID a Horner vs. other similar furniture! Charles.

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RareVictorian June 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

It’s funny drew, as I look at books from the 60s and earlier, everything Rococo parlor-wise was a Belter. Almost all the Meeks stuff was called Belter. And mostly in the context of “this is Belter” and not “Belter style”. Today we just know more names to mis-attribute things to. At any given moment in the 19th century in the major cities, there could be 400 furniture shops churning out furniture.

Charles, I have it 1/2 written so should be ready in the next few days. The time consuming part is the taking, cropping, lightening, editing, combining of the images… But I think this should be the definitive article on Horner Hall chair identification (probably because it will be the only one ;-) ).

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Emeriol June 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Just be glad they didn’t throw in Hunzinger’s name as well. I can’t even tell you how many pieces read: Horner / Hunzinger chair. They will throw in Hunzinger’s name with anything, just to get the search hits. :)

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misslilybart June 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm

From the “Household Decoration” advice column in Harper’s Bazaar, January 1905:

“Fumed oak is the lightest and warmest in tone. It is similar to walnut, a rich nut brown. Weathered oak is a cold brown, darker in tone than the fumed oak, but lighter than the Flemish and Antwerp oak, both of which are very nearly black.”

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RareVictorian June 23, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Perfect, thanks misslilybart. Makes sense because if you’ve ever seen the “European Container” antiques, there’s a lot of that dark oak.

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RareVictorian June 23, 2008 at 5:16 pm

One random point about the chair – there is “634” in white chalk on the seat back. Not exactly 66-1334, but maybe its some kind of shorthand for it.

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woodwright June 24, 2008 at 2:05 am

Southampton Antiques has a Mitchell arm chair like this one for sale right now ($1,650) No attribution, mention of any maker. http://www.souhantq.com/os/os-1091.html woodwright

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Ware September 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Funny you raise this particular topic in June of this year. I have been researching the Mitchell firm and submitted a book on Mitchell ca.1895-1910 in March. It is currently being reviewed by the publisher.

The distinctions between Mitchell and Horner are many… and the whole Mitchell v. Horner issue has been a bee in my bonnet for two years now. While this subject is too complicated to rewrite here, I can confirm from my research (at Winterthur and the Met as well as the marketplace) that most of what has been named as a Horner piece of furniture without a label is highly suspect and I can site several examples that are illustrated in Mitchell’s catalogs (including “Dutch marquetrie” parlor tables. I should add that the lines between retailer and manufacturer become blurred for many furniture concerns ca. 1900. If you have a particular question, please let me know at staforlife@yahoo.com

ON A SIDE NOTE ABOUT HORNER… do any of you know about Princess Metternich’s salon furniture? The NY Times states that Horner reproduced her furniture and had it on display in his NYC wareroom. Metternich had residences in Vienna, London… unfortunately I cannot figure out WHICH pieces were reproduced.

Best,
Ware

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RareVictorian September 9, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Glad to hear there will be a book out there to help clear some of this up. Welcome to the site and you can be sure I’ll send you an email at some point with a Mitchell/Horner related question.

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Ware September 9, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Also, for those interested in the Mitchell furniture ad above, it was printed in 1901 in Munsey’s Magazine. I do not know of other publications in which the ad appeared, but I do know that the Roman chair continud to appear in Mitchell’s catalogs at least until 1907. By 1909, Mitchell’s catalogs started to be printed in COLOR.

Hard to stop!

I love this topic! Thanks to the moderator for this site.

Best,
Ware

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rick royce June 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hi,

I have an oak china cabinet with mirror from about 1900 time period. This has curved side glass. It is in excellent condition. I would like to sell to someone that would appreciate it and use it as we have for over three generations.
If someone is interested I would be willing to email pictures of it to you. When you see it you could make an offer to purchase it and we can talk.
Thank you for your interest. My email is : rickroyce@dishmail.net
Hope to hear from you soon

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Trina July 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I bought a small table at a sale. It appears to be really old maybe antique. There is a red imbedded tag that says Robert Mitchell Furniture Company. Another tag,which is metal, it has a eagle and says true grand rapids cabinet making certified with a number of I-19256. a small green tag thats says Imperial Grand Rapids Mich. then another that says made in grand rapids there is also a number stamped that says 2176. it is a beautiful piece of furniture. At the end of each leg there is a metal foot or claw. Do you know anything about this? Any help would be much appreciated.

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John Werry July 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm
Gregory January 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

For what it’s worth; the correct name for this type of chair is a Savonarola chair.

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Michelle January 9, 2013 at 10:49 am

Hi, I purchased a antique china cabinet and was trying to find out a little about it and found your website. What is obvious is this: it is made out of quartersawn oak, it has very ornate winged griffins on the front columns on each side of the door approximately 15 inches tall, what looks like a sort of flower is front and center above the door, three toed lions feet on the front and perhaps what looks like two toes carved into the back feet. It has a decorative band at the top. What led me to this website are the numbers on the back, 27 is stamped into the wood on the upper left and 4224 is stamped in ink on the back. I have been unable to find a copy of RM’s Catalog to look up 27-4224? Any suggestions, I wouldn’t know the difference between a R Mitchell and a RJ Horner?

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John Werry January 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Would have to see some photos. Send to info @ rarevictorian.com

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