Calvin equals Paul McCobb?

The name Calvin Furniture has become almost synonymous with Paul McCobb. So much so that pieces which are clearly labeled as being made by other manufacturers (such as the Connoisseur Collection pieces by H. Sacks and Sons) are occasionally listed as being by Calvin even though the furniture label clearly states otherwise.



The truth is much furniture that you will see by Calvin is designed by Paul McCobb, but not all of it.

In the late 50's and early 60's Calvin Furniture continued their business relationship with B. G. Mesberg National Sales and Directional Furniture even after Paul McCobb was no longer designing for those concerns.

It’s important to know that Paul McCobb was not the designer for Calvin Furniture. Paul McCobb was the designer for Directional/B. G. Mesberg National Sales, Calvin Furniture was one of the many furniture manufacturers contracted to manufacture Paul McCobb's designs.

The earliest non-Paul McCobb designed group manufactured by Calvin that I am aware of is the 1959 American Design Foundation group, designed by Kipp Stewart and Stewart MacDougal. Amercian Design Foundation pieces are typically labeled on the inside of a drawer with the American Design Foundation label pictured here.

1959 American Design Foundation furniture label


The American Design Foundation Group was sold in department stores and I believe it was marketed by B. G. Mesberg National Sales, the same business entity that represented Paul McCobb's Planner, Perimeter and Linear Groups. The group was shaker inspired and consisted of Living Room, Dining Room and Bedroom furniture as seen in the following Bloomingdale's advertisement clipping taken from the July 31, 1960 edition of the New York Times.


American Design Foundation by Kipp Stewart and Stewart MacDougal
Bloomingdale’s 1959 American Design Foundation advertisement


Many people seeing the Calvin Label and the shaker influenced design instantly think that this must be another Paul McCobb group... especially looking at the bow tie dining chairs (top left) with their obvious similarity to the #430 Slip Seat chair designed by Paul McCobb for the Linear Group seen below in a 1958 advertisement from House and Garden.

House & Garden April 1958 page.40
1958 Linear Group Advertisement


It's interesting to note that at least one of the designs for the Kipp Stewart/Stewart MacDougal American Design Foundation group was not manufactured by Calvin Furniture at all. The chairs seen around the table in the 3rd illustration down on the left side of the ad were made by Winchendon Furniture (another company whose output is almost synonymous with Paul McCobb) and on more than one occasion have mistakenly been identified as being designed by Paul McCobb.

1959 American Design Foundation chairs designed by Kipp Stewart and Stewart MacDougal
manufactured by Winchendon Furniture

1959 American Design Foundation chair designed by Kipp Stewart and Stewart MacDougal 
manufactured by Calvin Furniture


Comments

  1. Your ability to dig out all this documentation amazes me! So interesting!

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  2. Bought a $5 end table last week and later found the plaque "Calvin Grand Rapids, The Irwin Collection designed by Paul McCobb". If you would like a picture of it, please feel free to ask. After extensive research on the web, I was unable to find anything that looks like it. Its in poor condition but beautiful nonetheless. Interestingly, I found your blog and it fascinates me. I remember my Aunt had a house full of furniture that looks like all the pieces on the Planner line. I wonder now what happened to those pieces!

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  3. Just recently found one of the 1959 Calvin ADF chairs you listed above. I have been searching for weeks to find what it was. Thanks for the posting!

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  4. Thanks for the posting. I found one of the Calvin ADF chairs a while ago and have been searching to find out what it is ever since - no more searching necessary!

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  5. Thanks for the posting. I found one of the Calvin ADF chairs a while ago and have been searching to find out what it is ever since - no more searching necessary!

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  6. I have the complete 1959 set (2 chairs pictured above) by Stewart/MacDougal for American Design Foundation for Winchendon Furniture Co.
    6 chairs, dining table, end table and china cabinet bought at Blooningdales in 1961. Cherry wood with black vinyl!

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  7. fabulous resource! thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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