This Dutch Arts and Crafts style chair, Ash chair no. 80, was manufactured by Charles P. Limbert and Company around 1903. It is made of ash and has a shaped plank back with a spade-style cut-out. The trapezoidal seat is supported by splayed plank trestles and a mortise and tenon joint. The trestles also feature an inverted cordate cut-out and ogee cut-outs near the floor.
This chair is featured in Charles P. Limbert and Company trade catalog, accession number 2017.1.617 from 1903.
Marks and Labels
-"Limbert | Arts & Crafts | Grand Rapids & Holland": Pyrographic mark on the underside of the seat
Furniture City (1994 – 2013) Furniture City was one of the signature core exhibits installed at the Grand Rapids Public Museum's new Van Andel Museum Center when it opened in 1994. At approximately 10,000 square feet, the exhibit occupied a significant portion of the museum's second floor and contained hundreds of pieces of Grand Rapids Furniture. The exhibition was accompanied by the authoritative book on the subject, "Grand Rapids Furniture", by GRPM curator Christian Carron. The Furniture City exhibit told a comprehensive story of the Furniture Industry in Grand Rapids, from its origins in the years after the Civil War, up to the present day with office and fixed seating manufacturers like Steelcase and American Seating. The exhibition was significantly reduced in size in 2013 to make room for a new gallery, and was finally closed in 2019.
Furniture Highlights (October 1 2014) Highlights from the Grand Rapids Public Museum's collection of over 2,000 pieces of furniture.
Pre-1894: Klingman & Limbert Co. serve as sales agents for other manufacturers
1894: Charles Limbert starts a new company to manufacture chairs, and continues as a sales agent for other manufacturers.
1902: Company begins production of its “Dutch Arts and Crafts” Line.
1906: Factory moves from Grand Rapids to Holland, but showrooms remain in Grand Rapids.
1923: Charles Limbert dies.
1944: Furniture no longer made under the Limbert Name.
Prior to his entry into furniture manufacturing, Charles Limbert had extensive experience in the sale of furniture. His father had been a furniture dealer, and Charles worked as a salesman for a company in Indiana and the famous J.A. Colby Co. of Chicago. In 1889 Limbert formed a partnership with another salesman, Philip J. Klingman. Together they served as sales agents for several manufacturers and leased showroom space to out-of-town companies at the Grand Rapids Furniture Market. While the partnership dissolved in 1892, Limbert continued to represent other manufacturers for more than a decade. Limbert made frequent trips to the centers of the European Arts and Crafts Movement, and to the Netherlands, to study historical furniture styles and modern furniture production.
The man who designed Limbert’s most sophisticated pieces may have been Austrian-trained William J. Gohlke. According to Don Marek’s Arts and Crafts Design: The Grand Rapids Contribution, he designed for the company at least between 1909 and 1914 and became a vice-president in 1921. He was likely familiar with the Vienna Secessionist Movement, and its influence can be clearly seen in Limbert’s Arts and crafts designs.
D.B.K. Van Raalte appeared as part of the sale force at Limbert by 1916 and became one of the controlling officers upon Charles Limbert’s death in 1923. Van Raalte apparently gained even greater control, because by 1927 ads and the company logo read “Limbert Furniture, By Van Raalte Craftsmen”.
Little is known about the company’s early designs. Oak chairs bearing the label of Klingman & Limbert surface occasionally, with straight slats and small cutouts that indicate an early movement toward Mission and folk-inspired design.
In 1902 Limbert introduced its “Dutch Arts and Crafts” line, which came in oak and ash, with fumed finishes and leather or woven hickory-bark upholstery. It resembled other American Mission lines but was influenced instead by Dutch peasant furniture. Limbert was also a sales agent for the Old Hickory Chair Co., and many of the outdoor and porch furniture designs in the Dutch Arts and Crafts “Summer Line” have that same rustic feel. This prompted use in many lodges and summer homes, including the hotels at Yellowstone. Though lines were simple, some earlier pieces included Art Nouveau-style leaded and colored art glass, inlays, pyrotechnics (burn marks), or cutout decorations.
Between 1904 and about 1910, designs became more severe and innovative, reflecting more influence from the Austrian Secessionists and perhaps the Prairie School in Chicago. Pieces were devoid of decoration, except for geometric cutouts set against strong, dramatic angles. From 1910 forward some refinement of these designs continued, but with less innovation. An exception is the Austrian-inspired “Ebon-Oak” line introduced in 1915, which featured simple inlaid squares on crests and stiles.
Limbert began to produce “original interpretations” of period revival styles in 1916, though its Arts and Crafts line lasted at least through 1918. The company offered dining suites in the standard array of 17th- and 18th-century English styles, as well as an Italian Polychrome suite, which are indistinguishable from similar pieces by other manufacturers.
A number of Limbert catalogs have been reprinted in recent years, including the 1903 Catalog, published by Dover and the Public Museum; The Fall 1905 Catalog and “Catalog #1090,” published by The American Life Foundation; and “Catalogs #112 and 119,” by Turn of the Century Publications.
MARKS AND LABELS
Klingman & Limbert made use of an elliptical white paper label with blue lettering. The insignia of a furniture worker at his bench appeared with the Arts and Crafts lines, as a burn mark or a paper label. Between 1902 and 1905 the mark mentions Grand Rapids as the sole location; from 1906 forward it reads “Grand Rapids and Holland”. The logo with the 1915 ads for the “Ebon-Oak” line featured the same worker but wearing Dutch wooden shoes instead of 20th-century footwear. With the change from Mission to Period Revival came a change on the logo, from the words “Arts and Crafts Furniture” to simply “Cabinet Makers”. Sometime in the mid-1920s, this was replaced by the words “By Van Raalte Craftsmen”.