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FROM THE LOFT by Warren Wolf

Cowboy Furniture

The recent passing of my childhood hero, Roy Rogers the "King of the Cowboys", brought to mind the cowboy or bunkhouse style furnishings my brother and I had in our shared bedroom growing up in Oklahoma. Today, the best of the cowboy style furnishings from the 40’s and 50’s are in great demand and outstanding examples are bringing thousands of dollars at auctions in New York, and more recently in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

The average individual can’t afford a $40,000 original Molesworth coffee table, but with a little time and effort one can still acquire an outstanding piece of cowboy furniture produced by one of the less well known builders. Ranch oak furnitureOne manufacturer in Texas produced thousands of pieces between 1938 and 1980. The A. Brandt Company of Fort Worth built a collection known as "Ranch Oak" that was distributed by upscale retail furniture dealers around the country. The informal design of Ranch Oak was in stark contrast to the period reproduction furniture that dominated furniture showrooms everywhere in the 1940’s.

Ranch Oak was well made from solid white oak lumber, it was "comfortable", and a good fit with the new Ranch-Style homes that were being built. Early examples of Ranch Oak furniture feature carved western motifs such as steer and horse heads, cactus, horse shoes, mountain vistas, and bucking broncs. By 1968 nearly 50,000 pieces were being produced in a single year and the assembly line process of manufacturing had greatly diminished the amount of beautiful wood carving that can be seen in earlier pieces.

In 1988 the A.Brandt company closed, the Ranch Oak collection that was produced in the final years of operation had only a faint resemblance to the richly decorated pieces that were made forty years earlier. In recent years there has been a greater awareness and appreciation of the honest material and craftsmanship that went into the old cowboy furniture. Ironically, new furniture produced with composite construction materials and CNC machines will typically sell for more than a fine old vintage piece made from heavy solid oak lumber and assembled and adorned by a master craftsman.

Warren Wolf grew up in Oklahoma and graduated from OSU with an interior design degree. He's had a long career in the commercial furniture industry (design, marketing, and manufacturing). In 1990 he began focusing his attention on supplying hospitality clients (resorts, lodges, restaurants) with rustic furnishings. He and his wife own KABIN FEVER, a rustic furniture and lighting business in Fort Worth, TX. Warren is the creator of the "From The Loft"column and a regular contributor to Log Homes NetZine® [LHNZ]


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