There are seven – count ‘em – seven “Pabst” pieces on Ebay right now and I wonder about how loosely the name is being bandied about for anything that resembles the style that he worked in.
British architect Bruce Talbert’s influential “Gothic Forms“, published in 1867, influenced many a maker at the time, including some to be mentioned below. In addition to influences from the “influencers” such as Talbert, the makers themselves converged during the major exhibitions and saw what each other was working on. Then there are the trade journals such as American Cabinetmaker that they all had copies of …
This exposure to architects, designers and other makers resulted in cross-pollination and propagation of stylistic elements that makes it unrealistic for us to whittle the list of likely makers down to the famous few and reuse their names over-and-over. This why I will be doing more of the “For The Record” posts on this blog.
Take a look at the following cabinet:
This is made by an American maker that most of the Rare Victorian regulars are very familiar with but most of you wouldn’t have guessed ever employed Modern Gothic designs. See those strap hinges? A pattern taken from Talbert’s Gothic Forms. Bonus points to whomever can figure out who made this cabinet. Put your answer in the comments. I’ll give you a hint that it isn’t any of these makers that also worked in the style: Isaac Scott, Kimbel & Cabus, Allen & Brother and Herts Brothers.
If you see this cabinet coming up for sale and attributed to Pabst from Neal Auction, it employs similar designs to door panels from … again … Talbert’s Gothic Forms.
I don’t suggest that the Neal cabinet or any of the other six pieces do not have excellent reason to be attributed to Pabst. I haven’t examined them in detail to know, so please don’t take it that way. I’m just a bit overwhelmed by the appearance of seven pieces attributed to this cabinetmaker whose items are not exactly frequent in the marketplace.
Kamelot Auctions of Philadelphia has a great mantelpiece in their next auction at the top of this post that they are attributing to Daniel Pabst and I feel they have good reason to believe so. See this design from Pabst’s own hand, “Designs for Two Mantelpieces”, from Supplement to the Builder and Decorator. This image is from The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 1977 bulletin on Pabst (a great resource of Pabst images). Not identical to the drawing, but at least there is a line of reasoning.
Pabst is one of my more favorite makers and I hope that many or all of these truly are by him. I’d like his pieces to be more appreciated and familiar to us all.
As an aside, I recently asked an auction house about a particular attribution and what I got back was not “due to the piece in x museum” or “documentation”, or something with some teeth. It amounted to “the consignor said so and our department agrees”. It kind of reminds me of a recent bumper sticker I ran across: