Posted 2 years ago
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.
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.