The aim of this website is to highlight the relatively little known The Lakeside Craft Shops (LCS) through its history and showcase images of LCS items. Much of the information is from the excellent book, The Lakeside Craft Shops: A Brief History and 1912 Catalogue by Peter Copeland. However, I have also added much of my own insight about the company and their wares. The images herein are mine, from collector friends and dealers, and others of unknown origin (please let me know if I scarfed one of your images and I will credit accordingly!).
SOME INITIAL REFLECTIONS
In my opinion, the LCS produced some of the most interesting and pleasing pieces of Arts and Crafts furniture and novelties. The balanced dimensions and relatively compact size of many LCS designs were accentuated by chamfered boards on doors and cabinet sides, leaded art glass inserts, tapered legs, brass strap hinges and other hardware, and decorative medallions of coloured wood inlay. Some of the ‘combination’ pieces in the 1912 catalogue employed ingenious designs of sliding and hinged tops and other unique features. Many of the pieces are truly unique and highly sought after. Some beg forgiveness. Most are handsome and quite useful. And, LCS pieces are still relatively affordable. However, while some of the smaller book stands and book racks show up regularly at auction and eBay, many other pieces, particularly the most desirable ones, are downright rare. Later LCS pieces, i.e., post 1914, reflect a different direction of the company – far fewer pieces and more specialization. The ubiquitous LCS Bluebird cedar chests are a good example.
The LCS advertised in 1912 that they would produce what their founder Fred Dennett stated as, “many articles not generally produced”. And produce they did:
Jardinière Stands (38!)
Waste Baskets (15!)
Umbrella stands (24!)
Serving Trays (30!)
Importantly, many unique cellarette and smoking stands and combinations of these, together, and with the following were produced: bookcases, jardinière stands, window boxes, etc. Forty-seven pieces in total — these guys recognized our propensity for vices.
No massive bookcases, settles, dining room tables, or even any chairs here. This is part of the beauty of LCS pieces; they are relatively small and easy to find a space for – great for collecting and high in utility if you have the average size bungalow or condo. For example, the footprint of the G21 Combination Cellarette and Smoker’s Stand is 11 inches by 11 inches, and most of LCS cabinet pieces are only a few inches larger. If you see these pieces in images it’s sometimes difficult to see that they are quite small until you get one in hand.
As mentioned earlier, some of the ‘combination’ pieces in the 1912 catalogue employed ingenious designs of sliding and hinged tops and other unique features. These include that eventually led to “Lakeside Multiple Furniture” (e.g., writing desk-sewing stand), seen advertised in trade magazines of the time.
QUALITY & BUILD
Although the LCS name, mark, and motto leads to bucolic images of workers producing well-made pieces by the side of a lake the reality was far from that. As pointed out in Copeland’s forward (brief history) to the 1912 LCS catalogue, the LCS was a money-making venture that, not unlike other companies, utilized machinery and cost-saving techniques to produce items for profit. Copeland suggests that “drops” or “cut-offs”, the scraps produced by the Wisconsin Chair and other companies, could have been utilized at LCS as part of means to make profit from wood that would only be used to fire generators and kilns. This is so very plausible – pretty much any piece of LCS is made from relatively small pieces with a high proportion of each being quarter-sawn. The latter aspect adds to the desirability of LCS pieces – a high proportion have highly figured wood.
However, nice pieces of wood aside, LCS pieces, in my opinion, are made fairly simply and many might agree, relatively light weight. Even though LCS had access to vast amounts of these smaller pieces of cast-off wood, i.e., cheap stock, they still economized. Any parts not directly visible were constructed of maple or other hardwoods (yes, other manufacturers did this, too – check out the seat blocks on any Gus Stickley chair, etc.). I suppose that’s good business sense.
LCS pieces did not employ pins or tenons, although one model of Smoking Stand (S21) and a Footstool (G119), employed keyed tenons, and another Footstool (G117), and three book stands had thru-tenons. Pieces were held together with round-headed brass nails, glue, and screws covered with oak plugs. Many of the cabinets employed the use of veneers (like with other manufacturers, veneer can peel with time and use, which I’ve seen on a few LCS pieces.). Indeed, we know that the Wisconsin Chair Company and Fred Dennett’s other concerns had veneering plants. Also interesting is that the same cabinet could come with veneer on the sides (and back) or be constructed with chamfered boards on the sides and front. Check out the images of the G20 and G20½ Combination Cellarette and Smokers Stand – the same item with both versions one above the other. As an aside this page with the G20’s also shows the two different versions of pipe racks; simple rounded on the veneered G20 and with decorative scalloped edge on the chamfered board G20½.
Comparatively speaking, Lakeside Craft Shops pieces are still relatively affordable. This includes eBay, the auctions, and independent dealers. This is surprisingly, particularly for the cabinet pieces which generally command good prices. Book/magazine racks regularly go for under $200 and cabinet pieces are usually under $1000, sometimes under $750, depending on the condition. While smoking seems to waning over, smoking cabinets can be used for many other purposes, plus I don’t think alcohol consumption is out of fashion.
Many LCS pieces are clearly marked and identifiable by the 1912 catalogue. Some pieces that appear to be LCS are marked with the Northern Furniture Company mark; I believe that LCS’s owner, Fred Dennett, had an association with Northern, which also operated out of Sheboygan. Still other pieces are unmarked, and while they appear to be similar to LCS in design and quality, further work needs to be done to identify these pieces.