Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sitting it out~

Some time ago, American Bottle Auctions listed a chair that they attributed to Shea Bocqueuraz & Co. (Auction 59 Lot #33). About the same time, a seller attempted to ride the wave of popularity this auction lot was enjoying, and listed a virtually identical chair for auction on eBay. Opinions about this pair of chairs were many and varied.

The general consensus was that these chairs may have been made for a California Brewer, perhaps Sierra Brewing Co., and not Shea Bocqueuraz of San Francisco whiskey fame. Regardless, at least two bidders felt that it was worth fighting over and when the bidding war ended, the chair had hammered for the princely sum of $5060~, including commission. The ebay listing is still moldering away, with ongoing price reductions and buy it now listings and re-listings.

But the mystery as to who these chairs were made for, and where they originated remained a nagging question mark. Both chairs had obviously been refinished, and no nomenclature tags remained to clear up the mystery.

I received an interesting email a few days ago. It read;

"I bought this same chair in Wichita, Kansas back in 2013, guy on craigslist was asking 50.00 and talked him down to 25.00, no damage its a absolute beautiful chair and cant imagine ever selling it but to help you guys out on the bottom of my seat it appears to have a stain mark where a tag was removed at one time, it has a second tag on ti that appears to hae been stained over or refinished possibly at some point the tag reads, Sold Exclusively for The Helmers Manufacturing co. there is no date but from what I could learn seems to have been made around end of1800's early 1900's"

Today, the owner followed up with this comment;

"posted a comment on august 17th,2014 i bought same chair a year ago off craigslist in wichita kansas they were asking 50 i talked down to 25.00 said chair had been in family for decades anyways included pics and link in comment to help give you some more info on chair here are my pics of my chair."

and a series of photos.



The owner pointed out that the bottom of the chair originally had two stickers, but that over the years, one had fallen off. Based on my experience with antique furniture of this period, the missing sticker, no doubt, would have had both the name and address of the person / persons that this particular chair was built for.
Missed it by that much...

Henry J. Helmers, opened his furniture business in Leavenworth, Kan. in 1875. He came to Kansas City early in the century to establish a distribution warehouse. Looking for a location, he chose the site pictured because it was on the Interurban Line to Leavenworth. The viaduct had not been built at that time. The site was that of the Fisher Brothers sawmill of the 1860's. Logs were floated down the Missouri to the mill and cut into lumber.

The Helmers Manufacturing Company was a Leavenworth Kansas "For-Profit Corporation". Incorporation documents were initially filed on March 16, 1888.
The postcard of the Helmers Manufacturing Company at 908 W. 8th, the Intercity Viaduct with horse-drawn vehicles, and the Missouri River in the background was mailed from Kansas City in 1913.

The Helmers factory in Leavenworth was a long three-story building. The same architectural plans were used for the Kansas City structure, by cutting the plan in two and placing one half the building over the other. Plans had to be revised slightly when in 1907 Eastern investors began building the viaduct, and Helmers property was in its path. A corner of the building would have to be nipped off.

The furniture factory and the Kansas City warehouse were operated by the same Leavenworth employees, who made the trip back and forth to their homes in Leavenworth by the Interurban Line. After the viaduct was built a stop was made at Helmers and steps were built down to ground level.

One mystery solved; the "Evil Chuckee" chair originated in Kansas, not on the west coast as originally hoped for. But who was he created for? If only that second label was still there!

(photos and documentation courtesy of ABA, the owner, and the KC public library website)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would suspect that it would be for Shea Bocqueraz, before a beer co, as the chair definitely has a whiskey barrel as part of the design, and XX XX means whiskey not beer, not to mention that anchor mark which looks to be the same as on Anchor whiskey flasks........

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