Grove Park Inn – Round Tabouret

#603 Round Tabouret Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley, Ca. 1907-1908

This article is an excerpt from the book Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts FurnitureThe Grove Park Inn opened in 1913, at the height of the American Arts & Crafts movement and was decorated with furniture from Roycroft, one of the major commercial producers of Arts & Crafts furniture. The Inn has retained many of the original pieces and has continued to acquire a large and rare collection of original Arts & Crafts furniture. The Grove Park Inn serves as an important link in the history of the Arts & Crafts movement and is a great location to view the furniture in place. This collection is the next best thing to visiting the Grove Park to see the furniture for yourself, showcasing this rare and beautiful furniture for the first time in any book. You’ll also find never-before-published measured drawings for many of these pieces, making this a wonderful collection for history buffs and woodworkers alike.  To learn about the furniture of the Grove Park Inn, and see more measured drawings from unique Arts & Crafts pieces, click the link to buy Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture.

Between 1900 and 1902 Gustav Stickley issued a series of catalogs of his earliest Arts & Crafts furniture, including several experimental forms of small tables which he referred to at various times as tea tables, plant stands, chalet tables, bungalow tables, cottage stands and drink tables. By 1904 he had settled on the name tabouret (from the French, meaning ‘small drum’) and a standard form: A circular top supported by four legs joined by arched cross stretchers. Clients could select from one of three sizes: 14-inch diameter (16 inches high), 16-inch diameter (18 inches high) or 18-inch diameter (20 inches high).

The three sizes of tabourets remained a standard Stickley offering the remainder of his Arts & Crafts career with only three subtle changes in design. The earliest version, offered in 1904, featured exposed through-tenons on the outside of the legs and sweeping arches culminating at the inside of the legs. In the second version, which appeared around 1907-1908 and is pictured here, the sweeping arch remained, but the exposed tenons had been eliminated. As illustrated in Stickley’s 1909 catalog, the tabourets reached their final form: No exposed tenons and the sweeping arch had been shortened so that it ended prior to meeting the leg. The final version remained in production until Gustav Stickley declared bankruptcy in 1915.

The version shown here in front of the fireplace at the Grove Park Inn represents the second of these three designs and is not original to the hotel. It is model #603 with a top diameter of 16 inches and a height of 18 inches. It is signed on one of the stretchers with a one-inch red decal bearing Gustav Stickley’s name beneath a joiner’s compass. While not visible in the photograph, the top of this table is attached to the base using what collectors refer to as a ‘figure-8 fastener.’ Cast from iron rather than stamped from a thin sheet of steel, these fasteners were designed with beveled holes for two screws: One going down into the top of the leg, the other going up into the bottom of the table. The fasteners could pivot slightly on the screws, permitting the top to expand or contract with changes in humidity without splitting. Arts & Crafts collectors have learned to look closely for these cast iron fasteners, for they were favored by Gustav Stickley and can help confirm a piece of furniture made in his Craftsman Workshops but without a red decal, paper label or brand identifying it.

There are two other notes of interest regarding furniture produced in the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley. In nearly every case the edges of the bottom of each leg will have been beveled. As anyone who has ever slid a piece of furniture across a floor will attest, legs which have not been beveled are more apt to snag and splinter than those which have had their sharp edges softened. On a less positive note, furniture made in the Craftsman Workshops generally will only reveal either a very shallow tongue-and-groove joinery on the top boards or only a butt joint between boards. In both cases the strength of the joint is nearly totally dependent on the adhesive. In contrast, both Charles Limbert and L. & J.G. Stickley often incorporated a wooden spline inserted into slots cut into the face of each board before they were glued together. The spline provided more stability and gluing surface than Gustav Stickley’s shallow tongue-and-groove joinery. The Roycroft Furniture Shop also relied on glue and butt joints, but they compensated for the lack of a spline by making their tops thicker than any other Arts & Crafts furniture workshop, which created additional gluing surface.

If you’d like to build a copy of this table for yourself, we’ve provided a measured drawing that can be downloaded as a PDF. Click here to download the measured drawing.

Bruce is the author of Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture.