From the Black Forest to Philadelphia: Gottlieb Vollmer, Upholsterer and Cabinetmaker, 1841-1883



Mills, Alanna Deirdre

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A massive completely gilt, blue brocatelle-upholstered Louis XVI revival parlor suite was made by Gottlieb Vollmer for the White House Blue Room during President James Buchanan’s residency. Outside of this parlor suite little is known about Gottlieb Vollmer, who he was, and how he fit into the 19th-century American furniture industry. Through locating, examining, and identifying furniture made by and attributed to Vollmer, and analyzing federal and cultural documents like censuses, newspaper articles, and personal letters, a more comprehensive knowledge of Vollmer and his furniture is chronicled. By comparing his business and work to that of his contemporaries in Philadelphia and New York, Vollmer is firmly established as one of Philadelphia’s most renowned cabinetmakers and upholsterers of the 19th-century. In addition, the analysis of Vollmer’s work provides a basis on which future attributions to Vollmer of unidentified furniture can be made, further enhancing the scholarship in 19th-century furniture history.


This thesis was embargoed for 5 years and will not be available until December 2021 at the earliest.


Gottlieb Vollmer, Furniture, 19th century, Philadelphia