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Stickley, Gustav, 1858-1942. / Craftsman homes
(1909)

An outline of furniture-making in this country: showing the place of craftsman furniture in the evolution of an American style,   pp. 151-159


Page 151

AN OUTLINE OF FURNITURE-MAKING IN THIS COUN-
TRY: SHOWING THE PLACE OF CRAFTSMAN FURNI-
TURE IN THE EVOLUTION OF AN AMERICAN STYLE
THIS book is meant to give a compre-
       hensive idea of the elements that go to
       make up the typical Craftsman home.
       Therefore at least one chapter must be
devoted  to Craftsman  furniture, for in the
making of this we first gave form to the idea
of home building and furnishing which we
have endeavored   to  set forth.   For  this
reason, and because the furniture has so far
remained the clearest concrete expression of
the Craftsman idea, we are here illustrating
a few of the most characteristic pieces that
serve to show all the essential qualities of the
style.
  In order that the reader may understand
clearly the reasons which led to the making
of Craftsman furniture, and its place in the
evolution of a  distinctively American  style
that bids fair eventually to govern the great
majority of our dwellings and household be-
longings, we will first briefly review the his-
tory of  furniture making   in  this country.
With the older styles, such as the English and
the Dutch Colonial, we have little to do. They
xvcre importations from older civilizations, as
wcre the Colonists themselves, and they ex-
pressed the life of the mother country rather
than that of the new.  When we first hegan
to make furniture in this country, the cabinet-
makers naturally followed their old traditions
and made the kind of furniture which most
appealed to them and which came within the
scope of their experience, for, after the first
primitive days of the Pilgrim Fathers in New
England and the earliest settlers in the South,
the life of the Colonists was modeled closely
upon that of the old country and this life
naturally found expression in their dwellings
and  household   belongings.  Therefore  the
Colonial style was so close to the prevailing
style of the eighteenth century that it may
be regarded as practically the same thing.
  After the end of the Colonial period, and
during the swift expansion that followed the
Revolution, there was inevitably a return to
the  primitive.  Importations from   the old
world were no longer popular and while the
houses  of the  wealthy were  still furnished
with  the  graceful spindle-legged mahogany
pieces of earlier days, most of the people were
forced to content themselves with much plain-
er and more substantial belongings.     Little
chair factories sprang up here and there, es-
pecially in Maine, Vermont and     Massachu-
setts, and these  supplied the great demand
for the plain wooden chairs that we now call
kitchen  chairs, and the   cane-seated  chairs
which were usually reserved for use in the
best room.    As the demand increased with
the increasing population, the alert and re-
sourceful  New   Englander   began  to  invent
machinery which would increase his output.
As a consequence, the business of chair mak-
ing  made   rapid growth,  but the  primitive
ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST MASSIVE OF THE cRAFTSMAN SETTLES; MADE OF FUMED
OAK; SOFT LEATHEE SEAT.
151


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