Post image for Mystery Cincinnati Furniture Manufacturer

Mystery Cincinnati Furniture Manufacturer

by John Werry on September 8, 2010

A Rare Victorian reader contacted me about a chair that they have below with a badly damaged label, but a label nonetheless.  It is clearly from a Cincinnati cabinetmaker (or retailer), but the question is: Which one?  It appears to begin with the Letter “R” and then followed possibly by a capital “L”, but possibly not.  I pose the question to the Rare Victorian audience to see if you can guess the maker or have seen a similar, but complete label.

This chair bears a distinct resemblance to chairs that I have always attributed to Horner.  I’m betting this is  a case where, as is common, where a single maker is distributing the same or similar chairs through multiple retailers.

So whose shop is it?  Full resolution/size version is here.

RLChair Mystery Cincinnati Furniture Manufacturer

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

woodwright September 9, 2010 at 9:09 am

I would check with the historical society of Cincinnati. They might be aware of manufactures from their town or this style of chair and be able to better tell you. If they don’t know, they would probably enjoy seeing it and may be able to help figure it out.

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Vintrest-John S. September 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Wish I could add two photos to this thread. (I’ll try to post them in a forum thread) In any event, I have a chair with very similar carvings and inlay (including mother of pearl) that I know for certain came from a NYC area estate picker, so I tend to agree with the NYC provenance. While Cincinnati had (Robert) Mitchell & Rammelsberg as well as a number of lesser production shops, doubtful this C. 1890 chair came from there. I have a copy of Jennifer Howe’s (2003) CINCINNATI ART-CARVED FURNITURE AND INTERIORS and there’s nothing remotely like this chair (or mine) from Cincinnati. While I suppose it could be a local knock-off derived from an NYC maker’s line, it is far more likely to be an NYC made piece later sold at one of Cincinnati’s high-end furniture stores. Around 1890, Cincinnati was in the same status league as Chicago and St. Louis in the Midwest and had its fair share of wealthy families. It seems in matters of tastes, these large Midwestern cities look to the East and especially to NYC for decorative and cultural direction. One other resource to check might be Cincinnati auctioneer Wesley Cowan. (who’s frequently featured on PBS’s HISTORY DETECTIVES)

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Cinci September 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Although not art carved, Cincinnati art carvers of the period would occasionally utilize a similar design. I don’t know which shop it would have originated from. Cincinnati did have a lot of carvers that would do market carving, such as this.

The inlay on the back of your chair appears to be exactly the same as on one of these, all believed to be Horner: http://rarevictorian.com/2008/06/attributing-rj-horner-hall-chairs.html

The color on the chair appears pretty uniform for its age, was it messed with?

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