Thursday, October 28, 2010

Linear Group Room Divider post updated

The Linear Group Room Divider post has been updated to reflect new information about the construction and manufacture of these pieces. It seems likely now that Imperial Furniture made the initial production run (untagged and using hook eyes as a connection method for the shelves) and Calvin Furniture the remainder of the production (Calvin Furniture tag, aluminum center support across top shelf, aluminum tabs as connection method for the shelves).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

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