Monday, August 20, 2012

Antique Tiger Oak Furniture

I have always loved furniture pieces made from quartersawn oak. It has character and texture. Sometimes called tiger oak because of the golden striped grain lines, it was popular during the Arts & Crafts period. My great grandmother Mamie had an oak table and chairs, china cabinet, and buffet. They are the simple Mission style, manufactured by the Cochran Chair Company in Cochran, Indiana before 1900. The story is that she had to burn two chairs and the table leaf one winter night so they wouldn't freeze. I don't know about that, but I have enjoyed the round table and four chairs in my kitchen and dining room for nearly 30 years.  

I have been wanting a tiger oak sideboard to match my table. Last Friday, on our anniversary, we went exploring in a local antique mall. We saw several oak buffets, but they weren't exactly what I had in mind. We did come across a cute little tiger oak bookcase with a single glass door and the same simple lines. It fits perfectly on a short wall in our dining room, and the sale price was right at $225. I've already filled it with pieces of my pottery collection.

We noticed it had an original looking shipping label on the back, hand addressed to Portland Planing Mill in Portland, Tennessee (where we live). What looks like an original price of $37 can be seen on the wood back. The manufacturer on the label is Grand Rapids Fancy Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was able to find that they were in business from 1896 to 1938, before being bought out by another company. They made office desks, ladies desks, bookcases, music and radio cabinets, mostly in the Arts & Crafts style.  The only info I found about the Portland Planing Mill is a Portland Herald article in 1909. 

I'll keep searching for a tiger oak sideboard or buffet, enjoying my quest since it's such fun browsing around antique shops, flea markets and estate sales. I wonder about the families who owned the pieces, where they came from and the stories they could tell.  

Antiques are things one generation buys,
the next generation gets rid of,
and the following generation buys again.”
--Author Unknown