Photos by Nathan D.
Growing up, I visited Colonial Williamsburg twice and fell in love with its decorative and architectural beauty. As a middle schooler, I routinely carted around the 1980 and 1988 Williamsburg catalogs in addition to my brown bag covered textbooks so I could sneak a peak between classes or during study hall. I could not stare often enough at the furniture in particular and, despite moving on to new interests and pressures in the ensuing years, I found ten years later as I moved into my first apartment that those catalogs had left a lasting impression. Of course, as a young law school student, I could certainly not afford Kittinger furniture. I did the best I could—though never truly satisfied—but never forgot the beauty of those masterpieces.
I purchased my first piece of Kittinger a few years after graduating from law school and after my wife and I had bought our first house. It was a birthday present for myself, bought mostly because the seller was willing to ship the CW2 table via UPS. It’s certainly not the finest piece of a Kittinger I have, but it holds a special and fond memory for me. It is currently placed next to my front door where I can see it everyday.
In the ensuing years, I have collected Kittinger wherever I could. About ten years ago, I found a copy of the first Williamsburg catalog from the 1930s, and I was amazed to learn more about very rare reproductions seldom seen. I was soon on a mission to obtain a CW10 decanter stand. Years went by, and I found none. Finally, about five years ago, one came up for auction in a state several hundred miles away. I found a shipper, bid, and ultimately won. A week later, the table arrived—with two of the three ball-in-claw feet broken off due to poor packing. Although insured, I was heartbroken at coming so close. Several months later, another CW10 table was available, but I was in a meeting and missed bidding. Finally, two and a half years ago, the Elmwood Company featured a beautiful example. I always check the website at the beginning of the month, and I wrote to Kim immediately for pricing. I’m not sure what price she would have given that would have been too much, but, ultimately, it was only slightly more than the version I had purchased at auction several years before. Of course, it was also in pristine condition having been refreshed by the Elmwood craftsmen.
Like any obsessed collector, I will travel far and wide for a good deal or unusual addition to my collection. Over the years, I’ve had luck with hole-in-the-wall antique shops, estate sales, premier auction houses, and even Craigslist. I‘ve sold pieces to trade up and relegated to the den some pieces that used to be featured prominently in the living room. Some of the rarest pieces have come from my friends at Elmwood—be it my cherished CW10 decanter stand or the CW183 chest I added last year. I love the thrill of the hunt, but sometimes, the most satisfying hunt begins and ends by checking the Elmwood website on the fifth of the month.