Earlier this year a friend purchased all that remained from the estate of Franklin Gottshall. If you are not familiar with that name, then you probably aren’t into furniture from the Queen Anne and Chippendale periods (although he did wite a few other books, including “You Can Whittle and Carve”). Franklin Gottshall was one of the early pioneers when it comes to writing books on how to build furniture.
This past weekend I was back in Pennsylvania wrapping up the move of my shop to Ohio. Glen Huey was giving me a hand (I think he tagged along to see if he could slide a few stray figured log sets into his truck.) We had everything packed and ready to go when we ran into some trouble. I called my friend and lumber supplier to see if he could help. When he said to come over, I told Glen he might want to tag along because this guy had purchased most of Gottshall’s estate – the mention of a unique workshop and some really cool tools only sweetened the deal.
My friend’s workshop is filled with vintage hand and power tools (both woodworking and metalworking.) He’s a generous host and a passionate craftsman. Knowing Glen was a furniture junkie, he immediately jumped into stories about Franklin Gottshall and the items from the estate. He’s got many of the original drawings from Gottshall’s books plus lots of other interesting items.
The first drawer opened contained prints of the drawings from several books. Leafing through the drawings, Glen remarked his father had begun the corner cabinet, but never finished the piece. We stumbled on a Sheraton Field Bed drawing which Glen noted was his first real project. The more we looked at drawings, the more amazed we were at the depth and breadth of the pieces that Gottshall had studied and documented.
There were photos used in Gottshall’s 1952 “Woodwork for the Beginner” as well as drawings. Sitting in the shop was a cabinet built by Gottshall in which he stored his paint and finishing supplies. There were several other things Gottshall made, including a chair from one of his books. My friend also purchased a large lot of mahogany that Gottshall was, according to his nephew, “saving for his personal use.” That lumber has already been sold to someone who is writing a biography of Franklin Gottshall.
The coolest item we saw was Gottshall’s diploma from trade school. There were of lots of other items, too, including letters from Gottshall’s son (who had a really cool job, but if I told you about it I’d have to kill you), correspondence with his publishers, paint and other shop materials as well as personal items such as signed copies of his books and books from Gottshall’s personal library.
My friend has teamed up with the Society of American Period Furniture Makers to sell prints of several of Gottshall’s drawings. And did I mention they’re elephant folio size (approximately 14″ X 25″) not the quarto (9″ X 12″) size printed in his books? Keep an eye on the SAPFM site for news of when these prints will be available.