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Moses Younglove Ransom

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groveland's items2 of 25PurdoniumDeco lady's head table lighter
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    Posted 2 years ago

    (25 items)

    Gotta love that name! And I suspect it to be a name not familiar to many.

    Bear with me as I set this up.

    In the past, I've posted 2 pieces of furniture by one of my favorite Victorian NYC furniture making firms, the Merklen Brothers. See:

    In that posting, I refer to Paul Tucker's excellent published article as well as his postings on Pintrest about this maker. Also see his informative Facebook page. All a must for anyone interested in Merklen and Hunzinger.

    Also see:

    So, finally, I will get to the point and make a connection. The Merklens incorporated into some of their furniture panels of what were called "Moorish Fretwork". These are wonderful decorative panels of, how shall I describe them, woven spiral turned wood. My second pic is an advertisement by the Merklen Bros. showing a rocker with one of those panels used for the back.

    It is my understanding that the Merklen Bros. did not make those panels themselves. In 9/15/1885, a patent for an "interlocking spiral molding as an article of manufacture", i.e., Moorish Fretwork, was issued to M.Y. Ransom, a Cleveland Furniture maker. He produced those panels. For much more about this, please see Mr. Tucker's "The Magazine Antiques" article I refer to in my first link as well as his Pintrest and Facebook postings. Also see his article, "Moorish Fretwork" in "Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music and Science". A copy of MYR's patent is reproduced in that work. It reflects that late 19th century obsession with "Orientalism" in design.

    There is some furniture known to have been made by Ransom. But he also made some INCREDIBLE architectural fretwork. For examples, please see the references I mention above. Recently, I was fortunate to acquire one of these pieces.

    See my first picture. It's 6 feet long. I show a close-up of the Moorish Fretwork in the last pic. To my eye, it resembles the pattern shown in figure 4, example H, of his original patent. It has survived in overall wonderful condition. It is made from 1/4 sawn oak. Original surface. No maker's mark. It is my understanding that some of these pieces had a brass tag. Overall survives in wonderful condition. To me, like watching a sunrise on the surface of a shimmering pool of water. Often, this stuff is misattributed to the Merklens. They used it but MYR made it.


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    1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Great Informative Post !!!!
    2. myransom, 2 years ago
      Groveland, I'm really glad that there is someone else out there that appreciates the work of the Merklen Brothers and Moses Younglove Ransom! There is one correction that needs to be made. On April 6, 1886 Valentin Merklen patented a machine to make Ransom style spiral mouldings. I believe the Merklen machine was vastly superior to Ransom's and that probably the majority of Moorish Fretwork spirals were made on the Merklen machines.So even though Moses Ransom held the patent for Moorish Fretwork I think the Merklen boys made their own from the get go. There is an 1884 ad for a Merklen chair with a Moorish Fretwork panel in it. This predates the September 15,1885 Moorish Fretwork patent by a year. I'm guessing that Moses Ransom and the Merklen boys worked together somehow. Anyway I just wanted to make this small correction and thank you for promoting this work. Check out my most recent Moorish Fretwork Facebook page for a new find in Moses Ransom's work. Paul Tucker 717 648 2971
    3. groveland, 2 years ago

      Thanks for the additional info which is always welcome!


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