What years was the W. K. Cowan Furniture company in business?
From 1894 to 1916.
A Great Part of American Furniture History
A brief History of the William Kennett Cowan:
W K Cowan (b 10/24/1869); Grad. Chicago Manual Training School 1889; Trained in architecture with Henry Ives Cobb (Chicago Varnish Co. Building, the Columbian Exposition, Newberry Library, Liberty Tower in Manhattan, and the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, and other notable places); Cowan designed and supervised all of the plumbing plumbing and "related fixtures" for the Colubian Exposition in 1893 Chicago.
In 1894 he started a special furniture business, which incorporated in 1901 with him as President and General Manager; by 1905 he had build one of the largest furniture factories in Chicago at 605 Lake Shore Drive at the foot of Ohio and Ontario Sts. Their Retail Store was at 203-207 Michigan Ave. This business was often called "Cowan Cabinet Made Furniture". They imported furniture until 1898 (English made, mainly). In 1898 they produced a wondrous catalog of their own furniture of hand crafted Mahogany and Circassian (European burled) Walnut with a "modest use of other decorative woods". The Univ. of CA has an online digitized copy: http://www.archive.org/details/ catalogoffurnitu00cowarich -- its worth ogling. For a while they were the top of the furniture business with retail sales outlets in big named stores throughout the USA.
They fell onto hard times and sold all their remaining inventory, etc. to the Gimbel Bros. of Philadelphia in 1916. They still maintained a small furniture business until about 1920. Mr. Cowan died at his home (1422 N. State St. Chicago)in 1928.
I have what seems to be a similar set to the one you described. Ours also has two side cabinets with large knife urns. The table can condense to a round or has numerous leaves to extend to seat about 16. All solid mahogany. It was my Great Uncle Louis Anderson's who bought it from his friend Mr. Cowan in 1910. Louis and his brother John Anderson were in the publishing business in Chicago at this time and lived in Evanston. IS there interest in this funiture. It is too large to fit in my current home. Please let me know where to source it? As I am interested in selling the whole suit. I have included some pictures, they do not show everything.
Thanks for posting and letting me know about the catalog. I found the "work table" on page 148 that was recently handed down from my husband's grandmother and geatgrandmother. Now I am wondering how to put a value on it for insurance purposes. Any suggestions?
I have no idea. I was hoping for the same info. I was pleased to find the catalog as well.
Thank you for the information about Cowan Furniture and the link to the U.C. archive. I have, according to the catalogue, a "Mahogany lip-edge stand" that was a wedding gift to my maternal grandmother. It is shown in a photo of wedding gifts she received at the family home in Oakland, California, December 1916.
found my tilt top table in the catalog! THANK YOU! Number 309
Thanks everyone, this is a very informative thread.
Thanks so much for your information! We just purchased a Cowan buffet (sideboard) from the great-granddaughter of the original owner who bought it in Chicago early 1900's. We're THRILLED to know its history, and to get it from the original owner's great-granddaughter, who is a dear friend.
I have what appears to be the exact same set as above. 8 chairs (2 with arms and 6 without( the table with 5 leaves, a side board, buffet, 2 cabinets (although they do not have urns on top of them). The were purchased by my Great Uncle Benjamin Thomas Wood who was Vice President of the Treasury for Frisco Railroad. The set had been used in the St. Louis World's Fair in the Frisco Pavilion where they were trying to sell private cars. His wife saw it and he bought it for her. This set is all original, has never needed to be refinished and in very good shape. Like others on this thread, however, it does not fit in our house and we are looking to find out what it is worth to sell it. Any suggestions or ideas would be most welcome.
I have this stand from my grandparent's and in the process of restoring it.The number on the bottom is 247.What is the proper colour to refinish it?
The proper stain is called Provincial. Wipe it off as you stain and you should only need one coat.