Rare Victorian - John Jelliff Or J.W. Hamburger?

John Jelliff Or J.W. Hamburger?

John Jelliff Hamburger John Jelliff Or J.W. Hamburger?

Compare this 1872 catalog image of a J.W. Hamburger sofa, model “King William Suit”, to a 7-piece parlor suite currently for sale as a John Jelliff.

John Jelliff Hamburger John Jelliff Or J.W. Hamburger?

The overall form is strikingly similar and a few decorative elements are very close to being the same but there are a few key differences:

  1. The “chair backs” on either side of the sofa are not rounded over at the top as in the catalog
  2. Two vs. four front legs
  3. The drop finials in some locations are replaced by an acanthus scroll or palmette
  4. The catalog’s medallion has a circle beneath it as does the front of the skirt
  5. The catalog skirt is missing the incising design of the “Jelliff”

We have seen J.W. Hamburger execute his catalog images very literally.

Surprisingly, there is a near match on at least one of the more obscure details – notice the bottom corners around the central upholstered medallion – they have a round shape connected to a side view of an acanthus leaf.  That is an obscure design element that I would not expect one maker to focus on copying from another.  The crest medallion, the “eyebrow” ledge above it and carvings that flank it look very similar to those in the catalog.

These two sofas could represent an evolution in design by J.W. Hamburger or they could represent Hamburger or Jelliff copying the work of the other or one wholesaling to the other.

What’s your take?  The listing of the set can be seen here.

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  • RareVictorian - June 19, 2009

    Just noticed this one is also on sale.

  • Canadian maple - June 19, 2009

    I think the differences between the sofas outweigh the overall similarity. I’d put my money on Hamburger having copied Jelliffe’s design but making it sufficiently different that he couldn’t be sued for “stealing” the design.

  • monkecmonkedo - June 19, 2009

    It would be interesting to see the underlying construction of a Jelliff vs. Hamburger set to see if there are manufacturing quality differences or preferences. Unfortunately, most people never get to see furniture sans upholstery. Any upholsterers out there that can comment?

  • jim hill - March 3, 2011

    i may have ajelliff or hamburger not for sure which

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