Some text accompanying a recent auction ad caught my eye that had made reference to a laminated Rosewood parlor set that would be part of the upcoming sale. I had seen the pattern many times before (as any a long-time Victorian (Rococo) collector has) and am familiar with its usual attribution to George Henkels as being the maker. What caught my eye was that the auction house was thinking otherwise – that it was made by Alexander Roux and had long been falsely attributed to Henkels of Philadelphia.
I contacted Adam Lambert (no, I don’t believe he is the one from American Idol unless the famous singer now has a side job) from Crescent City Auction Gallery to get their thinking on the attribution that was mentioned in the advertisement:
Welcome to the great debate in New Orleans that is like the Hatfields and McCoys. Our experts on American furniture believe that this set was falsely attributed to Henkles [sic] early. Two specific things about the set have our experts insist that it is Roux and not Henkles. The first is that this pattern is similar to the Bird Pattern done by Roux, and unlike any proven examples from Henkles. The second, and probably the most important fact is that there is no record of Henkels ever making laminated furniture.
In Dubrow’s book, this actual set is attributed to Henkles. This was an attribution made from an Auction House in New Orleans, and is believed by our New Orleans experts to be incorrect. Again, not everyone here agrees, but present day reasoning leads people to believe that it is Roux. Hope that this answers some questions.
Here’s an excerpt from Victorian Details that I sent back to Adam which introduces a third maker, Ignatius Lutz, who HAS worked in laminated Rosewood. It also references similar labeled Henkels furniture:
Here is the aforementioned Alexander Roux bird pattern sofa from the 1853 Crystal Palace Exhibition. I personally don’t see an adequate resemblance to the “Henkels” set to assert a Roux attribution but maybe I’m missing something.
Adam points out that Henkels didn’t work in laminated Rosewood and I believe that is true to our best knowledge today. If that is the case then, who did make the “Henkels” set?
Crescent City Auction Gallery’s sale of the above suite and several other Victorian lots will occur on January 17th. More from Adam on the sale:
On a side note, we have a couple lots that you may be interested in viewing on our website: Lot 352, a Rosewood Double door Armoire-probably New York. Lot 348 Rosewood Double Bed, possibly Thomas Brooks. Lot 333, Centripetal Chair designed by Thomas Warren. Lastly, Lot 317, Pair Kimbel and Cabus Walnut Armchairs.