Barber Brothers Chair Co.
1903 - 1911
Grand Rapids and Hastings, Michigan
1902: Addison A. Barber and John W. Shank form Barber & Shank Co., sale agents for several local manufacturers.
1893: Barber brothers Chair Co. is organized, with main office and salesrooms in Grand Rapids, and factory in Hastings.
1910: Barber brothers products are cooperatively marketed under the names “Hastings Lines” and “Lifetime Furniture” with products of neighboring Grand Rapids Bookcase Co.
1911: Barber brothers and Grand Rapids Bookcase Co. merge to form the Grand Rapids Bookcase & Chair Co.
Prior to forming his own companies, Addison A. Barber worked for many years in the sales departments of several Grand Rapids companies. In 1901 he organized the Grand Rapids Bookcase Co. in Hastings, Michigan. In 1902 he formed Barber & Shank Co. with John W. Shank. This firm represented the Welch Folding Bed Co. and Grand Rapids Brass & Iron Bed Co. as sales agents. A.A. Barber & Shank were joined by J.C. Barber in the formation of Barber Brothers Chair Co., which was represented by Barber & Shank. E.E. Dryden is known to have designed in the Mission style for the Barber Brothers.
Advertisement listed among its products high grade dining chairs, desk, reception and hall chairs, fancy rockers in oak and mahogany, Colonial and Mission chairs and novelties, rockers, settees, couches and Morris chairs, hall furniture and stools, and stained glass table and floor lamps. Most pieces shown in their ads are in the Mission style, and are generally in oak. Finished included Golden Oak, Fumed Oak, Early English, Was Golden, Weathered, and Tuna Mahogany. Forms are rather boxy, even stout, with repeating combinations of vertical or horizontal slats, which are sometimes bent or set at dramatic angles. Most chairs and settees are upholstered with coarse-grained leather hides, which are attached with exposed tacks, leather straps and oversized hand stitching. The #260 chair has a tall back with leather-covered crest, and the #575 armchair has a tooled design on the leather back cushion, which are reminiscent of Mackintosh and the Glasgow School. Much of the seating was made to complement the case pieces made by Grand Rapids Bookcase Co.
Marks and Labels
A simple rectangular paper label was used which read “Barber Brothers Chair Col, GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.” Look also for the name of sale agents “Barber & Shank” or for the trademark names “Hastings Lines” and “Lifetime Furniture.”
The source, with permission of the author, is Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America’s Furniture City by Christian G. Carron, published by the Grand Rapids Public Museum. 1998.
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