about antler furniture

History

Trophies of the chase have already been used as a source material for clothes hooks, storage racks and lamps in the 15th century. The idea of using antlers and stuffed heads mounted on walls for decoration was a forseeable effect. A hunting lodge replete with antlers and stuffed animals may probably have been the place where the first ideas for antler furnishings came up. Artists have maintained a constant flow of new ideas on using antlers.

The European aristocracy and antler furniture

At the beginning of the 19th century antler furniture were almost made exclusively for the European nobility to decorate their hunting castles and countryseats. The furniture was either manufactured completely from e.g. stag antler, or it was decorated with antler pieces from the stag, deer, fallow deer and others, or veneered with sliced antler pieces to get a hunting desing. Antler furniture are in addition often decorted with carved horn roses, wild boar tusks and horns from ibex or chamois.

The first provable antler furniture were developed in the year 1825, manufactured for a hunting castle of the count William of Nassau near Wiesbaden, Germany. Other famous collections of historical antler furniture are e. g. the hunting room in the country estate of the brandhof of archduke Johann of Austria or the antler collection of count Arco in his palace in Munich, Germany.

Historical pictures of castle antler arrangements:

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Some horn furniture examples are today only available as drawing, picture or aquarelle. The Austrian furniture manufacturer Joseph Danhauser (1780-1829) left behind hundereds of drawings of creative antler decorations.

The bourgeoisie and antler furniture

From the mid of the 19th century antler furniture became more popular and found a glory way into civil households. Antler furniture have been one of the great novelties of the great exhibition of the industries of all nations in London in 1851. A new lifestlye trend was born and the ambitious European middle-class generated a fabulous upswing. On of the first designers to be mentioned is the german ivory carver and furniture manufacturer H. F. C. Rampendahl who gained enthusiastic successes on several world exhibitions with his antler furniture. An anlter bureau, a horn seating group or individual chairs, decorated gun cabinets, H.F.C. Rampendahl created a whole new design world for fashioning rooms. In the aftermath one began to manufacture antler furniture in series. Antler furniture and hunting furnishings have been manufactured by several makers in Germany Austria and USA as there are:

  • H.F.C. Rampendahl, Hamburg
  • P. Keutner, Regensburg
  • Vitus Madel & Son, Ichenhausen
  • Kurt Schicker, Regensburg
  • Heinrich Keitel, Vienna
  • Rudolf Brix, Vienna
  • Friedrich Wenzel, San Antonio

The list displays some of the important manufacturers of antler furniture but there are known many others. Their assortment covered the whole market of furniture and a lot of housewares. One finds in the catalogues antler furnishings (Geweihmöbel) like antler gun racks, antler chandeliers, antler-frames, antler chairs, lusterweibchen, antler cabinets as well as small decorative items like desk sets, humidors, wardrobes, cutlery, etc.. Examining the sales catalogs of the different companies one is struck that some of them have also sold furniture from other companies under their own name.

Historical catalogs with antler furniture:

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antler furniture catalog 6antler furniture catalog 7antler furniture catalog 8antler furniture catalog 9antler furniture catalog 10

The disapperance of antler furniture

At the end of the 20s of the last century antler furniture productions finds a sudden end. None of the above mentioned manufacturers is still existing. From the time after the second world war are only isolated one-off productions known.

Antler furniture today

In the last few years antler furniture became famous again as an extraordinary piece of decoration in modern households as well as eye-catchers for hunting lodges and cabins in mountain areas. The term antler furniture is sometimes adapted to horn, rustic or log furniture and a modern fashion trend expression is cabin decor. Home decor magazines might use these phrases when presenting antler art pieces 
Neoteric reproductions which are executed particularly in the Eastern European countries (e. g. Poland, Czech Republic) come boosted into the market. Beyond that manufactureres in Great Britain, Italy or USA follow the fashion trend and offer modern art designs . Primarily seating furniture, lamps and other small furniture are produced in series. However the modern antler furniture products achieve by far not the quality and aesthetics of the historical exhibits.

Antler furniture in museums

Today historical antler furniture are exhibited in several museums all over the world. Below you'll find a list of some museums which exhibit antler furniture:

Literature references

  • Georg Olms: August Stukenbrok Illustrierter Hauptkatalog. Olmspresse, Hildesheim 1972
  • Sabine Spindler: Geweihmöbel 1825-1925. Klaus Spindler, München 2006
  • Bruce M. Newman: Fantasy Furniture. Rizzoli, New York 1989
  • Christopher Payne: 19th CENTURY EUROPEAN FURNITURE  Antique Collectors´ Club, England 1981
  • Rainer Haaff: Prachtvolle Stilmöbel Kunst-Verlag-Haaff 2012
  • Richard St.John, Longhorn Artist: Wenzel, Friedrich (Wichita State University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 1982)

 

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