I asked my grandmother for some background on the furniture and this is what she said:
I understand Mother and Daddy bought it when they moved into that house, probably the summer before I was born in 1931. Think maybe it was from Fakes Furniture Store downtown Ft Worth. Fakes and Ellison were the furniture stores of my childhood.(Here is the house my Grandmother grew up in. I vividly remember playing on that stone wall out front as a child. It's cute, isn't it? My Family Furniture Disease is pretty severe, in that I dream of this house going on the market and BUYING IT.)I remember Mother said that when they moved in she walked around the empty rooms and thought it marvelous. I will ask Annabelle (her sister) when I talk with her, but she has few memories of her childhood. She says that "It was just uneventful." I remember more about mother than she does. I believe the location of Fakes Furniture was probably on Houston St in the 400 or 500 block. I remember going there before the department stores moved from downtown. Historic Ft Worth probably has record/pictures of the store.
Daddy used it until he moved to the nursing home.
(This photo is from the 1930's, right about when my great-grandparents bought the bedroom set.) (Photo credit to Flickr user "TexasFight!") (Oh, it PAINS ME to write that user name on this website.)(This is the Fakes Furniture building today. The upper floors are residential lofts.)The Other Family (actual name redacted) bought it for their oldest daughter when we cleared out Daddy's house. She used it until she got bedroom furniture that her husband's grandfather had made by hand. That is when we bought it back for you.
This messes up my timeline a bit. I thought the furniture was manufactured after 1940, when the incorporation documents were submitted to the state, but they bought it in the summer of 1931. I WAS right on one thing: my great-grandmother did select the set and she died in 1960. It appears she used it for about 30 years.
At about this point I got an email from my dad with some notes he'd been able to turn up. The first was an article from a local newspaper that mentions a few key items:
Walnut was so abundant in Arkansas in the 19th and early 20th centuries that some of it was even used to make pencils. (So, the stamps that read 1944-WAL and 1915-WAL probably DO mean that it's walnut.)
Ballman and the brothers joined forces in 1894, incorporating as the Ballman-Cummings Furniture Co. By 1913, the company, along with the Ward and Garrison Furniture, produced enough furniture to fill 1,171 rail cars with beds, cabinets, chairs, couches, dining tables.
Furniture making was alive and well much before 1940 in this part of Arkansas - as early as 1894! Garrison was producing as early as 1913, likely earlier. HRMMMMM.
Then my dad found an obituary that mentions Ed Lucas. (My father has fantastic Google Ninja Skills.) Remember Ed? He's listed as a current officer of Garrison Furniture with the Arkansas Secretary of State.
Ed Lucas is the son-in-law of the former president of Garrison Furniture (Jack Grober, whose obit is linked to above).
Dad guessed that the document above may have been filed when Ed was added to the company, but that doesn't really make sense. The document was filed in 1940 and Jack (the former president of Garrison Furniture) would have only been 16 then. Surely Ed hadn't even been BORN in 1940, much less old enough to be the President. (Well, I guess he could have married a much younger woman?) Or, perhaps the Ed in the document isn't son-in-law Ed, maybe it's his father, Ed Senior? Maybe Ed Senior and Jack were friends and managed the company? Or, a third (and most likely) possibility is that the state only shows the date of original filing and not the date it was last updated or amended.
Probably that one is what's going on. Ed is probably son-in-law Ed and the digital record doesn't show each update. Anyway, out of all of these clipping and bits of research I don't know much beyond what I originally suspected.
1. The furniture was purchased in the summer of 1931 from (probably) Fakes Furniture in downtown Ft Worth.
2. It was made in Arkansas.
3. It's walnut.
But beyond that it's anyone's guess as to the value, how many duplicates were produced, and whether any are still out there. (I don't really care about the value though, since I wouldn't part with it in the first place.) I'm pretty excited to paint it and I'm 90% sure I'm going to give Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint a whirl. I've got the dresser in Charlotte's room already and it just fits PERFECTLY and the scale is lovely and it's like it was meant to go in there.
It's weird to realize that by the time this furniture (and my grandmother!) is 100 years old, Charlotte will be 20 and probably in college. (Don't worry, people in my family live for a really long time. My grandmother will be around.) It's five generations from my great-grandmother to Charlotte and that's an awfully long time to keep something and use it every day.It's nice to think about my great-grandmother sitting at the dressing table every day between 1931 and 1960, while both of her girls grew up around her, just like our family. Two mothers with two girls, four generations and 80 years apart. This is why family furniture is so much more special in a way that IKEA or Ethan Allen or Crate and Barrel can never be. I'm so glad to have it, finally.