International studio — 81.1925

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September 1925

American FURNITURE of TODAY

Out of a chaos of Manufacturers are adapt- unhappily many who were
changes has emerged [ng old modets of American not> made for themselves
the American furni- furniture for use in COn- JJ^hin^ of their homes,

ture of today. Whether it , i I ney used not only walnut

come, time-toned, from old temporary nomes and oak to the working of

world castle or colonial attic John Walker Harrington, which they were accus-

or from the shops of our tomed, but also hickory,

modern artist-artisans, there rests upon it new butternut, maple, birch and even pine. When

beauty and new dignity. they had no original pieces to copy, nor books of

It is good sometimes to peer down the pit from reference, they made designs from memory and

which such progress digs itself. Here then for a often created forms adapted to the uses peculiar

look into limbo! Yonder faded monstrosity is an to their new environment.

over-stuffed flour barrel of the period when Amer- The English colonies, which formed the foun-

ican women were solemnly advised that a refined dation of this country, prospered amazingly well

lady could make an artistic parlor by amateur use and long before the War of the Revolution Amer-

of a saw, a few staves, three rolls of cotton batting ican packet ships were trading with all the world

and a remnant of cretonne. Those tarnished relics and American colonists were not only importing

are gilt chairs of no pedigree. Here is a centre the best types of furniture made at the very

table with white and glareful marble top. There flowering time of British cabinetmaking, but also

are what-nots, once sine qua nons; hall racks with the choice examples from Italy, France and Hol-

mirrors in them; talking machines with ungainly land. In the pre-RevoIutionary period Sheraton,

papier mache funnels; hair cloth sofas, sideboards Chippendale and Hepplewhite were at the height

of oak with machine-earvcd birds and rosebuds of their fame and Americans of discernment were

glued thereon; Morris chairs; piles on piles of mis- buying finest examples from these masters as well

sion tables. as from the shops of noted cabinet makers, of

If one could envision a hundred years from English or Scotch birth in New York, Boston,

this writing, a fitting name might be given now Philadelphia, Baltimore and such cities. There

to this contemporary furniture period, in which is appeared a Colonial or early American type of

the year 1925. In spirit it is American Renais- furniture which was in reality a product of the

sance—a return to first principles of sanity and English version of the Renaissance,

correct taste. American furniture has a cosmo- Modern furniture was originated in Italy, fos-

mopolitan appeal as it did in the beginning, and tered in France, developed in Holland, and adapted

is likely to until the end of the world. When the in England. The Anglo-Saxons, accustomed to

Puritans and Cavaliers reached these shores early sleep in beds like packing boxes, learned their first

in the seventeenth century they brought certain lessons on interior decoration at the Battle of

tables and chairs and beds and cradles, but most Hastings. The Norman conquest of Britain, the

of their gear consisted of ponderous chests or invasion of French artificers at later periods and

chests of drawers. Using such as models, those of the skill of the cabinet makers of Flanders are all

our forefathers who were skilful mechanics, and seen on the furniture of our forefathers. Eliza-

SEPTEMBER 1925

three ninety-nine
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