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John Henry Belter

John Henry Belter (1804-1863) was born in Germany and immigrated in 1833 to New York City. He became an American citizen in 1839. Belter opened his first cabinet shop in 1844 at 40-1/2 Chatham Street. Two years later, according to city directories, he moved to Broadway where he occupied four different locations between 1846 and 1861. In addition to his Broadway showroom, Belter also had a five-story factory built in the 1850s on 76th Street near Third Avenue. He began describing himself as a cabinet manufacturer rather than cabinetmaker.

In 1844, he married Louisa Springmyer from the same town as his near Hanover, Germany. They had five children. In the 1850s, three of Louisa's brothers, Jonathan, William, and Frederick, joined the firm. Following Belter's death in 1864, the business was continued but renamed in 1865 as Springmyer Brothers, successor to J.H. Belter and Co. It closed finally in 1867.


Rococo Revival Furniture

Popular during the middle decades of the 1800s, the rococo revival style of furniture was based on furniture of a century earlier. Characteristics of this style are cabriole front legs, undulating seat rails, carved flowers, fruit, and scroll decoration, and intricate "openwork." Aside from the Belter patent model shown here, there are almost no examples of known chairs with "dished" backs. There are, however, many side and arm chairs and sofas made by Belter and his cabinetmaking contemporaries. Such a matching set placed around the edge of the room with a table in the center was the favored furniture and arrangement in parlors across the United States at that time.


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