Herter Brothers-Attributed Cabinet May Be Allen & Brother

by John Werry on June 12, 2009

allen brother herter cabinet Herter Brothers Attributed Cabinet May Be Allen & Brother

I bid on a cabinet this week after I learned of a “Herter Brothers” cabinet coming up at a local auction.  I immediately thought Allen & Brother when I saw the cabinet photos.  I coincidentally ran into the “Gems of the Centennial” which I then posted here on Rare Victorian and lo an behold there was an Allen & Brother cabinet in there that bore a good resemblance to the core form of the cabinet.

The central panel shape and the shape of the central top looked similar.  Then I compared the pilasters from both cabinets.  Though the incising patters are of different designs, the overall composition of the structural elements resemble one another.

The cabinet sold for $12,000, considerably above my bid and I would bet someone now feels that they have a Herter cabinet.  I don’t believe so.

allen brother pilasters Herter Brothers Attributed Cabinet May Be Allen & Brother

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

drew49 June 12, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Wow, it is an amazing piece, even if it is not Herter Brothers. I personally find Allen and Brother furniture interesting.

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R. Joseph Wiessinger June 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm

What a wonderful little cabinet. “Victorian HOmes” magazine , Fall 1995 ran an article on pedestals by Nancy Ruhling. In this article is a cabinet exactly like the one you were looking at or might be the cabinet> Priscilla St. Germain was consulted about the cabinet and she did not assign a maker. But since it is constructed of Walnut, she attributed it to a Philadelphia maker. Some piece to have in your collection!!

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jay June 12, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I personally own the exact same cabinet and I purchased the cabinet and have owned the cabinet for 14 years in my collection
as an Allen Bros. cabinet, not Herter Bros., So I believe your post to be exactly correct !!!!
it is extremely well made and beautiful. the condition of my cabinet is impeccable, and never refinished as well.

The best part is that I paid $3500 for the cabinet from an 88 year old neighbor 14 years ago.

jay

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zeke June 12, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Great piece John! There is very little documented Allen and Brother furniture so not much to compare it to. There is a great Allen and Brother write up with pictures in “The Magazine Antiques”, May 1996 and while nothing really matches that one you bid on the design elements on some of the furniture have a very similar feel to them. I’m guessing Allen and Brother as well, my favorite Victorian furniture maker. The “Gems” cabinet is very similar, great work John.

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woodwright June 12, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Very nice pedestal – good eye John. The similarities are striking w/ the Allen & Bro. cabinet/ pedestal you compared it to & I agree it was probably made by Allen & Bro. Their work was comparable to Herter Bros., they both had a great sense of design w/ great details – always visually interesting pieces. I love both makers work. It’s hard to choose a favorite between them.
The Allen & Bro. cabinet pictured on p. 145 of “Gems of the Centennial” is a 90% + match for a cabinet I saw (probably about a year ago and I believe has since been sold) on Southampton Antiques website. They attributed their cabinet to Allen & Bro. & after seeing this documented piece there is 0 doubt it was indeed their cabinet. The differences were that Southampton’s cabinet was Walnut (not Ebony), the side panels were solid walnut w/ no marquetry & the front door was glass rather than a marquetry panel, also theirs had a small box (almost like a cupola) built on top of it (unlike the one pictured in “Gems …”). All other details (form, incising, rings, large turnings, “ball” turnings, etc) are virtually all identical. I liked the cabinet when I first saw it and saved pics. of it – I’ll send them to John, I can’t post them here. Further evidence that makers often used the same form/ design and sometimes tweaked it a bit. woodwright

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RareVictorian June 12, 2009 at 11:10 pm

I bet if it didn’t have the Herter tag on it, it would have gone for $6,000. Drat! I’ll get my Allen & Brother piece yet….

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renaissanceman June 16, 2009 at 12:36 am

The pedestal is wonderful. I believe, like the one I own, it was designed as a music cabinet combination display pedestal, perhaps to hold a bronze or marble statue. I can assure all your readers that indeed the item at the recent auction was made by Allen Brothers and resembles about four other similar versions, one of which I own. I believe the one I own has slightly sharper carving detail, but lacks the embellishments of the gilding, ebonizing and porcelain plaques. I have attached a photo of the item I own for you readers.

renaissanceman

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Ian Berke June 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Good analysis! I have one of the pair of sphinx figures that flank the cabinet you illustrate from Gems. Sold as a free standing pedestal with its original rectangular base and turned urn above her head, which supports a somewhat larger round top. Have always been suspicious that it was a fragment from a larger piece, and your illustration is proof. Thanks and ciao, Ian

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F&J June 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Absolutely Allen & Brother…..carvings, construction, finishes and the incising match other identified pieces.

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peter July 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm

hi i have a great couch but we cant figure out who made it it has all the looks of a herter brothers can you help us with all your knowledge thanks pete

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