Award, Royal Furniture Company
Award, Royal Furniture Company
Award, Royal Furniture Company

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Collection Tier:
Tier 2

Decorative Arts ➔ Award, Royal Furniture Company

Framed and matted award given to the Royal Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan by the World's Columbian Commission in recognition of their fine furniture.;The United States of America by act of their Congress have established the World's Columbian Commission at the international exhibition held in the city of Chicago, state of Illinois, in the year 1893, to decree a medal for specific merit which is set forth below over the name of an individual judge acting as an examiner, upon the finding of a board of international judges, to Royal Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, exhibit: tables, chairs, dining room furniture; parlor and dining room cabinets and desks.


Tables and chairs for the quality of material used, the beauty of design, and the care with which the articles are executed. - Princess Schahovsky, Individual Judge

Dining room furniture, for highly artistic, classical design, very choice selection of beautiful woods, superior worksmanship, and excellent finish. - L. F. Crosby, Individual Judge

Parlor and dining room cabinets, for artistic forms, and good careful execution. - A. Schwartz, Individual Judge
Paper, Wood, Glass
41" h 32" w 1" d
Current Location Status:
In Storage
Gift Of Jack Buzzitta

Giacomo "Jack" Buzzitta
Giacomo "Jack" Buzzitta was born in Italy in 1910 and migrated to the United States as a small child. He attended in Davis Technical and Vocational High School in Grand Rapids and later studied art at Grand Rapids Junior College at what is now Kendall College. He then went to work at John Widdicomb Furniture Company, where he studied under Ralph Widdicomb. His work focus primarily on the D ornamental eyes Asian of furniture, highlighting the line instead.

Buzzitta went to work for Macy furniture company, where he works with office furniture for the for The first time. He then became a consultant to the metal office furniture company now Steelcase. They are who designed the first line of metal chairs the company made. In 1936 he married Anna Serna cola and joined Stout and Davis Furniture Company, where he worked until 1975. There he became, in 1973, the first full-time office furniture designer in the nation.

Throughout his career he won many awards, including: the Hardwoods Industry Exhibit Award for production in furniture design brackets (1955 and 1959); the National Industrial Design Council's Award (1960); and two awards in the Mahogany Award Competition (1963).

Royal Furniture Company
1892: Under the ownership of Alexander Hompe and Ralph P. Tietsort, Universal Tripod Co. becomes the Royal Furniture Co.
1901: A controlling interest in Royal is purchased by Robert W. Irwin.
1919: Irwin buys Hompe’s interest in Royal. Royal is combined with the Phoenix Furniture Co. to form the Robert W. Irwin Co. Production continues under Royal and Phoenix as well as Irwin names.
1931: Royal name is discontinued on Irwin furniture.

Royal was organized out of Julius Berkey’s Universal Tripod Co., although in 1898 both Julius and Charles Berkey are listed in the Grand Rapids City Directory as officers of Royal. Alexander Hompe and Ralph Tietsort were the company’s officers when Robert W. Irwin purchased controlling interest in Royal in 1900. In 1919 Irwin consolidated Royal into his new Robert W. Irwin Co.
Alexander Hompe served as the company’s head designer. J. Stuart Clingman designed special order furniture for the Tobey Furniture Co. in Chicago before becoming Royal’s assistant designer in 1903. Clingman made his mark in the modernization of forms by Hepplewhite and Sheraton. He stayed with Royal well after its reorganization as a division of the Robert W. Irwin Co.

Royal specialized in the manufacture of the dining room, living room, library, and bedroom furniture “for persons of wealth, who wish a most distinguished home culture and refinement about reproach.” Pieces were expensive because of the amount of hand-painted decoration, marquetry, custom fabrics, and imported woods. Most production was in period revival styles, including Colonial, Duncan Phyfe, Sheraton, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Adam, Spanish and Italian Renaissance, and Louis XIV and XV. Some Art Deco pieces were also introduced in the late 1920s. (For more detailed descriptions of post-1920 products, SEE Robert W. Irwin Co.)

Correspondence written by Alexander Hompe between 1889 and 1920 is in the collections of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Some of the letters discuss the purchase of Universal Tripod and its conversion to the Royal Furniture Co.

An early Royal ad shows the name of the company inside a flourished cartouche, which may have served as a trademark. Royal pieces by the mid-1920s carried a metal tag depicting a bust of George Washington, which read, “ROYAL FURNITURE CO./GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.” After the 1919 buy-out, the trademark was revised to read “ROYAL FURNITURE/MADE BY/ROBERT W. IRWIN CO.” Sometime in the 1930s, Irwin began to make use of an eye-shaped metal tag that read simply “IRWIN”.

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