New York Neo-Classical Ebonized Cabinet

by John Werry on December 21, 2008

neo greg credenza New York Neo Classical Ebonized Cabinet

If I wasn’t in cash-conserving home-rebuild mode I’d possibly snap up this excellent 1860s Neo-classical (Neo-Grec) cabinet. One can never have too many of these space-hogging extravagances. They cost even more than the initial purchase since the top-center raised surface requires one to go out and acquire a suitable vase or bronze to complete the ostentatious display.  I love them, though.

The bronze plaque and ormulu mounts were probably executed by P.E. Guerin, mount-maker to the stars at the time (Herts Brothers, Alexander Roux, Pottier & Stymus, Leon Marcotte, Kimbel & Cabus, and Julius Dessoir).

Believe it or not, P. E. Guerin as a company is still in business today making elegant hardware for the home.  Some of the mount models are still preserved by P.E. Guerin today and are stamped “P. E. Guerin,” or “P. E. Guerin New York,” or “P.E.G.”  It is not unusual for a mount model to have these markings while the mounts themselves do not since these markings can get lost in the casting process.  The May 2002 issue of Magazine antiques has a great article on Guerin illustrated with Pottier & Stymus pieces.

The mounts on my Egyptian Revival set by Pottier & Stymus bear “P.S.” markings.  I also have a pair of ormolu mounts bearing P.S. markings for sale.  All were probably done by P.E. Guerin.

I think there are suitable stylistic elements to nail this cabinet’s origin to New York and point to a small list of possible makers including Pottier & Stymus or Herter Brothers.  I think many dealers and auction houses would say Herter Brothers due to the door inlay.  I think Marcotte’s cabinet designs of the time were way French and he therefore wouldn’t be a candidate for attribution of this cabinet.  Alexander Roux is another consideration but he had other design conventions that he employed on his cabinets that I don’t see here.

There are some veneer issues on this cabinets in some places.  If anyone were to consider bidding, ask for condition information as it isn’t detailed in the listing, which mistakenly categorizes it as Egyptian Revival.  Starting price is $5,500.  More at the listing.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

renaissanceman December 23, 2008 at 1:50 am

The cabinet on ebay represents a series of similar cabinets in the Neo-Grec or Neo-Grecian genre of design popular during the 1860s and 1870s. There are at least five or more variations of the cabinet exant in the U.S. that have come up for auction in the past 10 years. The Strong Furniture Co. of Chicago sold a great deal of furniture to the Palmer Hotel in the 1870s featuring identical inlay in ivory, others done in satinwood. I have personally examined several of the aforementioned cabinets or credenzas and while the appearance overall is good, the workmanship is not up to par with either Herter, Pottier, Stymus, or Marcotte. Most of the cabinets are completely ebonized and the inlay is of a medium-grade quality likely produced in bulk in Italy and shipped to the US and assembled on various case pieces. That said, the ivory inlay against the ebonized surface makes a striking contrast. Note the interior’s are rarely done in high quality satinwood or birds-eye maple, but rather stained to give the appearance of the high standards used by New York firms.

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RareVictorian December 23, 2008 at 8:10 am

renaissanceman, yes I’ve watched a few come and go like this one: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/36100

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