HT Cushman Mfg Co Bennington VT, Furniture, Manufacturer Glossary of Antique Terms H

H.T. Cushman Mfg. Co. Bennington VT - (Furniture, Manufacturer) The H.T. Cushman Company was founded by Henry T. Cushman in Bennington Vermont in 1864. Henry Cushman was an inventor of items that we now take for granted. He invented several, now common, "novelties”. These included such items as an eraser attached to the end of a lead pencil, the first ink eraser (called the ink eradicator), a children's "pencil box" with pencils, pen, eraser and ruler in one box, and some of the earliest roller skates, made entirely of wood (including a pocket version that fit in a small tube). To better market his novelties, Cushman established the United States Mail Supply Company. One of the first of its kind the country, this mail order business became very profitable. In 1889 he moved to a larger location an started manufacturing furniture. . His first products took the form of coat and hat hangers and racks. A sales representative for the company came up with the idea for a towel and sponge holder for the bathroom, later to be called the "Ladies' Friend”. With the success of these simple forms, Cushman soon added umbrella stands, portrait easels, music stands, wall pockets, book racks, foot rests, small catch-alls called "Jolly Catchers," and indoor grille work. Never one to fall behind the times, Cushman added folding screens and fire screens to his inventory. These screens soon became one of his biggest sellers at the end of the 19th century. The most popular screen depicted a mother cat and two kittens in front of a fireplace. For added realism, the cats were made of black rabbit fur. At the turn of the century, Cushman started to phase out their earlier forms of furniture and focus on the newly popular Mission style. The soft woods used previously were replaced by more expensive hardwoods such as mahogany and oak. Though they mainly produced common forms, Cushman still had a knack for innovation. By the teens, the telephone started to become a common household device. Cushman jumped on this new technology and developed a line of stands specifically meant for using the telephone. Called the "Betumal," short for "beat 'um all," this stand had a hinged stool that folded under the table when not in use. Other more advanced features, such as a built-in directory, could be had for an extra cost. At the same time, the company also introduced a line of chairs called "Shynezy" that provided a space under the seat for shoe shining supplies. In the fall of 1913, the company produced a small line of stands for smoking accessories. Called "Smokers”, these stands soon became very popular and included everything from cigar scissors and humidors, to detachable ashtrays on stands. In the spring of 1933 the Cushman Company jumped on the bandwagon and introduced its "Colonial Creations" line. Designed by Herman DeVries, a Dutch designer, the "Colonial Creations" line bridged the gap between antiques/reproductions and modern furniture. Every piece was designed to fit in the modern home and serve modern functions, using antique forms as their basis. Not only did DeVries look to antique furniture for inspiration, he also looked at items such as a blacksmith's nail box and a cobbler's bench. In 1936 Cushman introduced a companion line called "Modern Creations" to show off DeVries' considerable talent for new forms. By the 1950s, the company had standardized production of all their various forms. Cushman now used yellow birch from Canada and New York for all of its furniture. This wood's color made it ideal for staining, and the grain could pass as maple, cherry, and walnut. The wood itself is tougher than maple, heavier than mahogany, more shock-resistant than walnut, and of greater bending strength than oak. Patrons could customize their order through a variety of wood stains, colors, and surface treatments. Since the inception of the line, customers could order their furniture "distressed" so that it had an antique feel. As the 1950s came to a close, consumers were looking for something other than colonial revival. For years, Cushman rode the success of its "Colonial Creations" line. Now it was forced to create new designs and upgrade the aging factory. The introduction of their "Fairfield" line brought a bit of success, but the company still needed a cash infusion to modernize their production. In 1964 the Cushman Company was bought by General Interiors Corporation.


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