Rare Victorian - For The Record: Israel Fellows

For The Record: Israel Fellows

israel fellows table For The Record: Israel Fellows

israel fellows table 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.

israel fellows samuel mansfield bubier For The Record: Israel Fellows

Share on
  • misslilybart - November 14, 2008

    “For the record,” that’s a great idea! I’ve just spent the past week trying to find out about the 19th c. furniture manufacture/decorator George A. Schastey (or “Shastey” or “Shastey”…) for an up-coming post on my blog, and dug a very dry well indeed.

  • james conrad - November 15, 2008

    Nice table, the legs are interesting. Fellows hails from a quite famous place in american furniture, Essex County MA. Alot of research has been done on furniture shops during the Pilgrim era in this area, particularly on joiners William Searle & Thomas Dennis.

    I googled Fellows and all i could come up with is, he worked as a journeyman cabinetmaker in the Kimball & Sargent shop during the 1830s in Salem.

    Yeah, i agree with MLB, for the record is a good idea, non famous furniture makers made some really great stuff and it’s normally alot more affordable.

  • Zeke - November 16, 2008

    Fantastic idea John,

    There are so many furniture makers from this era that are relatively unknown. A huge part of this website is devoted to broadening our knowledge of Victorian furniture. Bravo for this post and i hope everyone here will chime in on lesser, but no less important furniture makers from the 19th century.

  • RareVictorian - November 17, 2008

    Cheers, Zeke.

    I think my next one will be A. Lejambre. Although he’s not necessarily “lost” in history completely, I know of few people who could spot Lejambre attributes on a piece, myself included.

  • RareVictorian - November 17, 2008

    mlb, I assume that you ran into this: http://www.ced.berkeley.edu/cedarchives/profiles/schastey.htm


    John A. Hatt and George A. Schastey. Schastey advertised that he pro-. duced “fine furniture, architectural wood work, interior decorations, … http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120183043/abstract


    Burling & Whitehouse, in collaboration with interior designers including Chicago’s William August Fiedler and New York’s George A. Schastey, specified staircases, fireplaces, paneling and ceilings carved from onyx, alabaster…http://www.traditional-building.com/Previous-Issues-08/OctoberProject08Driehaus.html



    etc.. Not particulary a goldmine and I apologize if you saw these already.

  • misslilybart - November 17, 2008

    Thanks, RV. That is nearly everything I’ve managed to find on Schastey Sr. (The west coast George A. Schastey is a ‘Jr.’ who I believe is the son of the New York cabinetmaker/decorator.) My interest in Schastey Sr. (who was active from 1869-1897) arose from his purported involvement in the Rockefeller rooms formerly on display at the Museum of the City of New York, so most of what I did find isn’t applicable… I may eventually write it all up in an epic “George A. Schastey Omnibus post,” if only to wrap up a wild goose chase research tangent.

    One interesting thing that will likely “disappear” from the intertubes before I have a chance to reference it is this photograph of Schastey’s business establishment in NYC: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220293714149 or http://tinyurl.com/6r22kz; per an 1890 NYC city directory:
    ‘Schastey George A. & Co. cabinetmkrs. 1683 B’way & 228 W. 53d, & storage, 1681 B’way’.

    Schastey & Co sold the building at Broadway and 53rd around 1890, after which they occupied rented space, first at 489 Fifth Avenue, in a building owned by Pottier and Stymus (for whom Schastey worked prior to opening his own shop in 1873), who sued Schastey and Co for unpaid rent in 1892), and then at 506-508 West 41st Street, which was owned by Cabus and Sons (successors to Kimbel and Cabus). The latter building burned down in October 1893, just a few months after Schastey moved in. The company (now George A. Schastey and Sons) was at 428 5th Avenue, with a factory at 49-51 West 66th Street in 1896, when they filed for bankruptcy.

  • max - December 8, 2008

    I do not think you can attribute the table to a decorator unless it is labeled. It could have been purchased for the commission.
    I have seen a number [five or six]of very similar tables and always wondered who made them and in fact own one myself. The large number of examples would imply a large shop especially considering the detail.

  • RareVictorian - December 8, 2008

    I agree Max. I re-read the article and have modified the blog post to correct an omission.

Leave a reply