[Gottlieb Buehler & Co., Allentown, Pennsylvania; Portfolio of Parlor Furniture Drawings, 1914–1923].
Portfolio of just over 225 original drawings of parlor furniture and furniture suites made for furniture frame makers Gottlieb Buehler & Co. of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The cache of drawings spans the years 1914 to 1923 and documents a wide variety of seating furniture and upholstery styles for the most public of spaces of domestic life.
All of the drawings appear to have made by the same artist who, in almost every instance signs his or her name “Englert.” The drawings exclusively depict seating furniture: settees, sofas, arm chairs, side chairs, “club” chairs, corner chairs, daybeds, benches, and rocking chairs. The portfolio includes both two and three-seat settees and sofas, the latter including chesterfields with high padded sides and tufted upholstery.
Much of the furniture is “heavy” in design with wide arms, stout legs, and well-padded upholstery and with busy, carved wooden details. The First World War-era seating furniture evokes such design revival styles as Jacobean, Queen Anne, Chippendale and Sheraton.
Well over a third of the drawings (37%) depict suites of furniture. For example one might see a three-seat settee with caned back accompanied by a matching arm chair, and a matching rocking chair or there might be a Jacobean revival style upholstered sofa with carved stretchers with matching arm chair, high-backed chair, and bench. Additionally, there are also drawings of two chairs designed on a common theme such as an arm chair and a side chair.
The drawings are mostly pen and ink, though there are also many rendered in pencil. About a dozen drawings—mostly of suites of furniture—are augmented with either a color wash or, more typically, a gray, tonal wash. These suites and the pen and ink rendered suites are also annotated with their dimensions including a between-chair-arm measurement. The drawings may have been rendered for advertising or catalog purposes or, perhaps, by salesmen soliciting orders.
The Gottlieb Buehler & Co. was founded in 1897 in Allentown, Pennsylvania by German immigrant Gottlieb Buehler (1857–1932). Buehler trained as a carpenter in his native Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1881 and went to work for the firm of Schlegel and Ziegenfuss, parlor furniture manufacturers. After further employment with parlor furniture and ornamental sideboard frame makers Grossman and Kluenthur and furniture makers King & Co., he opened his own firm manufacturing parlor furniture frames in 1897. He took on a business partner, bookkeeper W.D. Schantz, and, in 1913, Buehler’s son Louis joined the partnership.
Following his father’s retirement around 1928, Louis succeeded his father. Several of the drawings bear the company rubber stamp of the father and son era showing their address at Front and Chew Streets in Allentown at which location the company’s manufactory was established in 1898.¹
“By 1913, the Buehler operation had become one of the leading parlor furniture frame makers in the Lehigh Valley [of Pennsylvania]. More than 200 men labored to convert the three railroad freight car-loads of hardwood lumber into the ornate furniture that no well-kept drawing room could do without. The firm had broken out of the East Coast market and sold its products to upholstery dealers in Chicago, New Orleans and other cities. ... In the post-war era, the company pioneered modern chairs, which enabled the company to escape the fate of so many other Allentown furniture makers. In 1974, Louis Buehler Sr. died. His son, Louis J.G. Buehler Jr., ran the company until 1986 when it was sold to Bethlehem Furniture Co. owner Donald Goodman.”²
Description: [Gottlieb Buehler & Co., Allentown, Pennsylvania; Portfolio of Parlor Furniture Drawings, 1914–1923].
[Allentown, Pennsylvania], 1914–1923]. ff. Portfolio of 228 original pen and ink and pencil drawings, a few of the former with color wash. Undated letter fragment laid in, referring to furniture “sketches” and “parlor frames.” Housed in a modern portfolio with cloth spine, printed marbled boards with leather label, cloth flap enclosures, and ribbon tie. Some drawings with small edge tears, brief wear, or creases; overall, very good with fresh, clean images.
Note. 1. The Allentown Morning Call, Allentown, PA, Thursday, June 23, 1932, p5. 2. Immigrant Buehler Found Prosperity In Allentown - Page 2 - tribunedigital-mcall accessed online.