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Oscar P. Fitzgerald

American city in western Michigan, noted for its furniture production. Its situation at the rapids of the Grand River provided ease of river transportation and proximity to timber from Michigan’s great pine and hardwood forests. The furniture industry began in Grand Rapids when the city’s first cabinetmaker, William ‘Deacon’ Haldane (1807–98), established a shop there in 1836. By 1851 E. M. Ball of Powers & Ball was boasting that he could toss ‘whole trees into the hopper and grind out chairs ready for use’ to fill an order for 10,000 chairs in Chicago (Ransom, p. 5). In the 1870s Grand Rapids became a major factor in the American furniture market. Such companies as Berkey & Gay, Widdicomb, Phoenix and Nelson-Matter built large factories and hired Dutch and other European immigrants to operate them. While most of these manufacturers produced complete lines of bedroom, parlour and dining-room suites, some, like the ...

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Brian Austen

English centre of furniture production. The town is situated in Buckinghamshire near the Chiltern Hills, where there is a plentiful supply of timber, particularly beech. The ‘Windsor’ chair, with which High Wycombe is particularly associated, was available in the London market c. 1720, and London chairmakers drew from the High Wycombe area billets of beech and probably such turned components as legs and stretchers. Turners, known as ‘bodgers’, would fell timber and directly convert it on simple pole lathes. Complete chairs were probably being manufactured in the High Wycombe area by the mid-18th century. Furniture workshops first appeared in the town after 1750, using turned components produced by the ‘bodgers’, making other parts such as the seat and assembling complete chairs for wholesale or retail sale. Four makers were listed in a directory of 1784, three being members of the Treacher family, and in the 1790s William Treacher was offering ‘Windsor, dyed and fancy chairs’. Another early maker was ...