Emerson & Son Spiral Table

by John Werry on March 14, 2009

I recently purchased an Emerson & Son furniture catalog from 1893 which I will make available on the catalog page in future. What caught my eye in the catalog was the image seen below.  As I said to Paul Tucker in an email, it is very “Merklenesque”, as in the Merklen Brothers.  Hopefully, some of you have read enough here on Rare Victorian to know not to even whisper the name George Hunzinger in association with tables such as these.  He did not corner the market on spiral furniture as is sometimes thought and he did not make tables that resembled these that I will show you in this post.Emerson & Son

As you can see from the photo below, the Emerson & Son table resembles those that are often attributed to Merklen Brothers, as this one was attributed during it’s sale.


Courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Notice the suspended stick and ball decoration below the table top, the ball and claw feet, the turned spiral legs, and the gadrooning which changes direction mid-way across the table edge.

One key element missing from the Emerson & Son table that can suggest Merklen Brothers manufacture is the decorative griffin brasses that hold the lower table surface.  The Merklens had many different decorative brass elements that they used in their tables, some of which you can see in my Merklen Brothers table videos.

Looking at the lower table surface on the Emerson & Son table in the top image, I couldn’t believe that the means of suspension shown in the drawing ever was truly implemented in real furniture.  It looks like a means of suspension that would never work in real life …

that is until I saw this “Merklen” table which confirms it can and was done in that fashion.


Courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com

I’ve often felt uneasy about some of the Merklen attributions that myself and others have made over the years.  I’ve seen (and own) numerous “Merklen” tables and I see construction differences that have always made me wonder.  This Emerson & Son catalog image confirms those fears and will make me pause a bit in future when using the Merklen name in an attribution.

There is a chance that Emerson & Son resold Merklen furniture.  They were located in Milford, N.H., about 200 miles from the New York location of the Merklen Brothers.

Hard to know without further research.

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