For The Record: Israel Fellows
I’d like to start a new feature on Rare Victorian, which I hope will last beyond this one post, called “For The Record”. The aim is to profile some less prolific, less visible, or “lost” cabinetmakers from the Victorian era. I’ll especially try to target makers whose pieces seem to be anonymously floating (or wrongly attributed) out there in the marketplace under our very noses, but that may not always be part of the criteria. I may profile a maker whom a pocket of RV readers are familiar with, but the goal will be to expose the broader readership of Rare Victorian to them as well.
The Magazine Antiques from May 1977 shows the above picture from the collection of the Essex Institute, which 31 years later is known as the Peabody Essex Museum. The table was photographed c. 1870 in the home of Samuel Mansfield Bubier (below), an affluent shoe manufacturer at the time.
The table was supplied by Israel Fellows of Salem, Massachusetts as part of a commission from 1869 when Fellows decorated Bubier’s home, providing carpeting, draperies, parlor, and hall furniture.
Update: When this blog post was first written, I originally associated the table with Fellows’ own cabinetmaking, but in re-reading the 1977 photograph captions, it clearly states that “the pieces are unmarked and it is not known whether Fellows made them or imported them from New York. Fellows was an active and competent cabinetmaker who worked in Salem by himself and in several partnerships throughout the 19th century”. The table does stylistically appear to be in-line with New York cabinetmaking and I would not be surprised if it originated from there. I thank Max Foote for his comment at the end of this post that reawakeend my own discomfort with the original assertion.
Israel was born Aug 28, 1814 in Ipswich, Massachussetts and died Mar 07, 1881. He married Catherine H. Goldsmith June 14, 1838 in Salem and they had five children together. That’s about all I could glean from the world on Israel Fellows.
I know I’ve seen that urn before on tables coming up for sale, though I don’t recall if the overall tables were similar as well.