Tobey Furniture Company - Card Table, 1901–1910<img alt="Tobey Furniture Company - Card Table, 1901–1910" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Tobey-Card-Table.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Tobey Furniture Company - Card Table, 1901–1910<div class="ExternalClassDA6912C5082B457F9295A395968A4CF2"><p>​"In point of design, quality of materials and integrity of construction, each piece of Tobey Handmade Furniture is as perfect as the highest artistic skill and the best available craftsmanship, painstakingly directed toward the achieving of our ideals, can make it," promised the Tobey Furniture Company in advertisements placed in <em>House & Garden </em>and similar homemaker magazines.1 Inquirers were sent a beautifully printed booklet that tactfully explained the philosophy underlying the character and artistry of the company's distinctive, albeit expensive, furniture. </p><p>The Tobey Furniture Company, a retail furniture dealer in Chicago since 1856, became manufacturers in 1870 when it acquired a local cabinet shop. Special designs for architects and interior designers were executed along with furniture for the store's retail customers and for stock. It also offered a wide variety of fine furniture purchased from manufacturers. </p><p>In 1888, Tobey's president, Frank B. Tobey, secured the services of Wilhelm F. Christiansen, an excellent Norwegian cabinetmaker who became partner in a subsidiary firm—the Tobey & Christiansen Cabinet Company. From then until his death in 1918, Christiansen supervised the factory where 40 cabinetmakers and 35 finishers and polishers made the high-quality, expensive furniture that placed the Tobey Furniture Company in the top rank of American furniture makers. </p><p>Beginning in 1898, Tobey advertised the exclusive line made in their own factory as Tobey Handmade Furniture. Chairs, sofas, tables, and desks, as well as bedroom and dining room suites were made in a variety of styles from solid mahogany, curly maple, or weathered oak. While many pieces were plain almost to severity, others featured elaborate forms and hand-carved details inspired by eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English and American furniture. </p><p>In 1901, the company introduced several designs that echoed the exuberant curvilinear lines and organic forms embodied in the distinctive art nouveau furniture promoted as "the new art" at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Tobey's "New Art" line, executed in fine mahogany, included a Drawing Room suite comprising tables with supports of swirling leaves, and chairs and sofas whose curvilinear forms were accented with bursts of naturalistic foliage. According to <em>Furniture World</em>, the pieces were exact reproductions of pieces shown at the Paris Exposition. </p><p>By September 1905, the company's pieces had become so popular that the company opened a retail store in New York City where it sold only Tobey Handmade Furniture. The line was offered until 1930, when the demand for furniture declined with the onset of the Great Depression.</p></div>GP0|#48fad03a-1139-4ca8-a3ee-2ddb4ca4727f;L0|#048fad03a-1139-4ca8-a3ee-2ddb4ca4727f|Tobey Furniture Company;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#b8008031-8d86-41bf-8c8c-657f66f046d4;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Furniture;#TemporaryFurniture;#Wood;#Chicago, IllinoisMahogany, 39 ¾ × 36 × 18½ inches. Tobey-Christiansen Cabinet Company, maker. Collection of Chicago History Museum