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Merton L. Gershun Walnut Writing Desk for American of Martinsville

$3,895

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Merton L. Gershun walnut writing desk for American of Martinsville.

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    Ships From: Los Angeles, CA
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About the Manufacturer

American of Martinsville

American of Martinsville is today revered as one of the finest manufacturers of mid-century modern furniture in the United States, but its beginnings were unexpectedly humble.Well ahead of the Civil War, tobacco was a cash crop in places such as Virginia, and the plant was grown with frequency on farms in Martinsville and elsewhere. In the early 1900s, the business around tobacco was changing and the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was expanding nationally, buying any Virginia factories in reach. Former tobacco producers Ancil Witten and Charles Keesee turned away from the business in 1906 and, with merely $30,000 in capital (and the support of local business leaders), began to manufacture bedroom furniture under the name American Furniture Company.In the 1920s, American Furniture Company expanded its offerings from bedroom furnishings. Alongside tallboy dressers and nightstands, Witten and Keesee’s outfit began to offer a range of dining-room sets to the discerning customer. By the 1950s, the name had been changed to American of Martinsville and the brand had gained a reputation for exquisite craftsmanship as well as its variety of furniture styles (Hollywood Regency, chinoiserie). Mass-marketed furniture meant big business in the postwar years and throughout the 20th century in Virginia, and factories owned by companies like Bassett Furniture and American of Martinsville remained busy as suburbanites bought furniture to fill the homes they were moving into.It isn’t difficult to spot American of Martinsville’s sturdy, solid designs — the lacquered walnut nightstands, mahogany coffee tables and more have long earned the admiration of mid-century modernism enthusiasts. The company’s high profile also owes to prominent attributes that distinguish its well-made vintage furniture, such as the use of wooden slats — inspired by Scandinavian modernism — on hutches and cabinet doors, the famous brass x’s inlaid on the tops of tables and dressers and the stately stacked type of the American of Martinsville logo, which usually appears in drawer interiors. The stamp prominently features an eagle perched atop the lettering, its broad wings spread across the “American” portion.Besides quality manufacturing, American of Martinsville is additionally recognized for having incorporated the trends of the day. Inspired by designers like George Nakashima and Paul Laszlo, the brand was also known for innovations with wood. Merton Gershun was one of the company’s most prolific designers, and he was responsible for some of its most successful modern furniture lines using the richer, darker woods that would become emblematic of mid-century furniture. Gershun’s most popular line was reportedly Dania, with its sleek walnut credenzas fitted with stylish brass accents and large drawers. Today, American of Martinsville specializes in furniture for the healthcare and hospitality industries.Shop a wide selection of vintage American of Martinsville mid-century modern sideboards, side tables and more on 1stDibs.
About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Los Angeles, CA

A specialist in mid-century modern furnishings and decorative arts, Danish Modern LA focuses on Scandinavian and American pieces by iconic designers like Hans J. Wegner, Greta M. Grossman, Finn Juhl, George Nelson and Florence Knoll. For the past 15 years, the firm’s talented and dedicated artisans have been refreshing and refinishing ...

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