Chinese Love Story Pictured on New Bedroom Furniture

Jamestown Post-Journal – March 20, 1948

A Chinese love story in lacquer, enacted on novel bedroom furniture, will be a special exhibit by Union-National Furniture Company at the Jamestown Exposition next month when 2,500 buyers will converge here.

The first sets of more than 250, now being made, are completed. Alldor M. Nord, president of the company, said today.

The story of this novel furniture venture, which may be setting a national fashion soon, really goes back to the early ’20s after the First World War when the company first started pioneering in this form of furniture decoration.

It will be interesting to Jamestowners to recall that the artist who started the work and his assistant both became nationally famous, William Delpringk – longries who was in charge for several years, later went to Hollywood and became a moving picture artist and consultant. His assistant for three years was Roger Tory Peterson just out of military service and one of the best known drawer of birds and animal life, whose work has been featured in national magazine and archives.

Today the decorative department of the furniture factory, which occupies a part of an entire floor, with a personnel of men and women numbering more than a dozen, is in charge of David C. Reed, Falconer, the foreman who has been there for six years.

The artist who draw the original designs, later drawn, lacquered, partially raised, and rubbed onto the wood in such a manner they cannot be rubbed or scratched off, are Merrill (Pete) Coffin, 333 Fairmount Avenue and Mrs. Genos Sameuleson, Celoron.

They are assisted in the many operations that take two weeks to complete, by a staff of other artists who fill in details in a manner much the same, although in miniature, as Micky Mouse cartoons are brought to life by the painstaking effort of hundreds of unidentified workers.

Mrs. Samuleson, who has devoted much of her life to art work in photographic studios and for six years at the factory, is the mother of Francis L. Samuelson, experiment department workers at the Magnovox Electric plant in Fort Wayne, Indians.

But it was no other than youthful Pete Coffin who originated the Chinese ‘bedroom script’ of ‘boy meets girl’ which will be the featured exhibit in the coming show. It is really quite an idea and carefully synchronated.

The Chinese boy and girl are introduced separately in a drawer of a night stand. They arrive at their Chinese meeting place on the head and footboard of the bed, meet on the drawers of the banity: scenes following their marriage are pictured on the drawers of a chest together with their two children. On the drawers of the dresser come the final scenes depicting the father (somewhat older) leading his family up a hill to their new and larger home, the housing situation having been settled. The drawings depict all Chinese characters and the quaint backgrounds of ancient China.

The bedroom sets, finished with black onyx style tops of maple veneer, the cases finished in ivory and brill blue, with gold as the basic design, will probably retail at from $850 to $1000.

The ‘boy meets girl’ theme is only one of the artistic product of this energetic and resourceful staff.

They draw, lacquer and prepare designs of dining room furniture, exquisite mirrors, antiques, serving trays and odd pieces of furniture.

Pete Coffin, who has been at the plant two years now, became interested in art in Jamestown High School, from which he was graduated in 1942. He tried out men’s furnishings work first but gravitated naturally in the art work he loves best.

One thing the artists wanted explained. Their decoration of furniture is no stencil job, no mere “painting on” process that can wash or be scratched off. They build up in bas relief some of their subjects and background and it is lacquered and rubbed to become almost indestructible.


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