Limbert – Second Fiddle to the Stickleys? - Popular Woodworking Magazine
 In Arts & Crafts Furniture, Chris Schwarz Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Like any Arts & Crafts enthusiast, I like the Gustav and L. & J.G. Stickley classics. But ever since I started collecting the stuff 28 years ago, I’ve had a deep affection for pieces by the Charles P. Limbert Co. of Holland, Mich.

Like many of his contemporaries, Limbert made a lot of Stickley-esque pieces that were popular during the turn of the last century. But unlike his contemporaries, Limbert also had a line of “Dutch” Arts & Crafts furniture that was unlike anything on this continent.

Limbert’s Dutch pieces had cutouts, curves and angles where the Stickleys had mass, straight lines and 90° everything.

Fresh out of college in 1990, I bought two original Limbert pieces that I still use today – a large game table (which is where my beer is right now) and a gorgeous desk, which is where I design all my books.

The Limbert factory in 1907.

Last weekend, my wife and I made a pilgrimage to Holland, Mich., to get away from our computers for a few days and soak up some of the Arts & Crafts heritage of the area. Of particular interest was finding the Limbert factory, or what was left of it. After some research, we learned the Holland factory was torn down in 1990 and replaced with a huge residential development.

The Limbert factory today.

At the Holland History Museum, we did find a few Limbert pieces, both on display and in use in the lobby. (Personal note: You get weird looks when you lie on your back in a lobby and start exclaiming “Oh yeah! Look at that!”)

Two chairs on display at the Holland History Museum.

If you would like to learn more about Limbert and his work, here are some great resources to check out.

  • Michael Crow’s “Building Arts & Crafts Furniture.” Don’t be fooled by the generic title that was bestowed by a dumb committee. This is a book about Limbert furniture. And a good one.
  • “Limbert Furniture” published by Turn of the Century Editions. This great book compiles a bunch of Limbert catalogs, which are a gold mine of visual inspiration.
  • Here are plans for one of my Limbert Bookcases (now in my storefront).
  • Plans for my favorite Limbert Tabouret.
  • Plans for a Limbert Waste Paper Box. I made tons of these for family, friends and customers. I still have one in my office.

Even if you are tired of Arts & Crafts furniture, I urge you to let a little Limbert into your life. It has a little Charles Rennie Mackintosh in it. A dash of the Vienna Secession. And (as far as I can tell) not a lot of Dutch. (Limbert grew up in Akron, Ohio.)

— Christopher Schwarz

Charles Limbert

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Showing 6 comments
  • oldestboy

    We have a (attributed to/no maker’s mark) Limbert sewing rocker. It matches the illustration and description in the old catalog. Nice piece.

  • chabber

    Imagine my surprise when seeing my home town in the blog. Glad you came to visit our little haven here by the lake. We recently took a small vacation up north to Charlevoix where we saw several craftsman-like pieces at a local antique store. After talking to the owner, we learned that they were Dutch craftsman style that were brought over by the owner.

    My wife immediately like them because she thought it added some delicacy to the standard, craftsman style.

    I hope you enjoyed Holland!

    Josh

  • ctregan

    If your ever find yourself in Syracuse NY, check out Daltons Decorative Arts. They specialize in furniture from the Arts and Crafts period and usually have a handful of Limbert pieces in the shop. The store is like a museum; It’s great to see so many turn of the century craftsmans work in person.
    http://daltons.com

  • Jim Dee

    There’s a wonderful song sung by (among others) B. B. King called “How Blue Can You Get?” in which the narrator sings that he has had the blues ” . . . every since the day we met.” So I won’t axe you to correct your good, honest American colloquialism.

    But I agree with the overall thrust of this post.

  • delong1974

    Big fan of Limbert here, too, particularly the 357 cabinet, which I think is grand. I like Stickley’s early Morris chairs, but I think in a lot of ways Limbert was making more interesting pieces.

  • Dearing

    Chris
    If you enjoy Limbert furniture, please head out west to Yellowstone National Park. Old faithful and other hotels are filled with wonderful examples. If you need further information contact the parks or me.
    Rob Dearing
    DearingWorkshop@gmail.com

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