Conant Ball Norsemates Room Divider

It’s not often that we promote something as “Rare” but this piece apparently is. This room divider comes from Conant Ball’s “Norsemates” collection and, from what we’ve been able to gather, hails from about 1958-1962. It is constructed of solid birch and features a doweled ladder-back divisional structure that provides visual distinction between spaces while still leaving the broader space with an open, airy feel. Use it as a table/divider or, perhaps, have cushions made and use it as a low bench/divider.

Conant Ball Norsemates Room Divider
Conant Ball Norsemates Room Divider
Conant Ball Norsemates Room Divider
Conant Ball Norsemates Room Divider
Conant Ball Norsemates Room Divider
Conant Ball Norsemates Room Divider

52″ wide x 19″ deep x 62″ high.

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We contacted The Gardner Museum, Inc. in Gardner, MA, (not to be confused with The Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, MA) to get some history on this piece. Here’s what the museum provided …

Following is an excerpt from A History of Gardner, Massachusetts 1785-1967 by Esther Gilman Moore:
 
 CONANT BALL COMPANY.
     In 1852, Aaron B. Jackson and Aaron L. Greenwood, under the firm name of Jackson and Greenwood, built a chair shop on West Broadway in South Gardner.  They were succeeded in 1857 by Abner and Leander White, who carried on business as A. White & Company.
     John R. Conant entered the firm in 1862, and in January, 1864 Leander White withdrew from the enterprise, and Charles W. Conant, a brother of John R., became a partner.  Two years later, Abner White retired, and the business was continued as Conant Brothers & Company.  In 1868, Carlos E. Ball was admitted to the firm and assumed charge of the Boston branch of the business, which was then located at 36 Richmond Street.  In 1875, Charles W. Conant retired from the concern, although he retained an interest in it until 1884.  In 1875 the firm name was changed to Conant, Ball & Company.  On December 14, 1891, John R. Conant died, and Carlos E. Ball continued the business until April 20, 1896, when Edward Clinton Ball was admitted to partnership.
     In 1888 the business was moved from West Broadway to its present location on West Lynde Street into a building originally owned by L. H. Sawin & company.  Many additions have been made to the plant since that time, including modern dry kilns and a modern mill room.
     The original Sawin factory was erected on a site which had the first water privilege on the stream which had its source in Crystal Lake, and was originally used by Deacon Noah Fairbanks as a grist mill.
     Charles C. Brooks became a member of the firm on August 1, 1905.  Carlos E. Ball died on January 10, 1909, and in May of that year a Massachusetts corporation was formed, under the name of the Conant Ball Company, which concern has since continued the business.
     The first products of the founders of the Conant Ball Company were cane seat chairs.  Later on they made bedroom and dining room chairs of mahogany, cherry, and walnut.  In 1918 and 1919, they started making breakfast room tables and by 1926 had begun to manufacture both dining room and bedroom furniture in early American design.
     In September 1929, the corporation purchased the plant owned by Bourn, Hadley Company in Templeton and have operated this since as a branch of the Gardner factory.
     In 932, Edward C. Ball died.  Charles C. Brooks and his two sons, Herbert E. and Charles C., Jr., purchased the business in 1936,  At that time, the officers were:  Herbert E. Brooks, president; Charles C. Brooks, Jr., vice-president; Charles C. Brooks, treasurer.  On the death of Charles C. Brooks in 1949, Charles C. Brooks, Jr., was elected president and Herbert E. Brooks, treasurer.
     In 1950, Stephen A. Brooks, son of Herbert E. Brooks, was elected vice-president and Rachel Brooks, sister of Herbert E. and Charles C. Brooks, Jr., was elected assistant treasurer.  These are the present officers of the corporation.
     Grouping of furniture in Modern design and reproductions of Early American furniture are included in their present lines, which are being distributed throughout the United States, and are shown at markets in Chicago and High Point.
 
The Conant Ball Company went out of business in 1990.  The building no longer exists  Virtually all of the major manufacturers (furniture and others) that once thrived in Gardner have moved or no longer exist.
Conant Ball factory, 60 West Lynde and bound by West Lynde, Pine, Lake and Central Streets in Gardner, MA. Photo courtesy The Gardner Museum Inc., Gardner, MA.
Conant Ball factory, 60 West Lynde and bound by West Lynde, Pine, Lake and Central Streets in Gardner, MA. Photo courtesy The Gardner Museum Inc., Gardner, MA.
Conant Ball Norsemates collection catalog cover. Courtesy The Gardner Museum Inc., Gardner, MA.
Conant Ball Norsemates collection catalog cover. Courtesy The Gardner Museum Inc., Gardner, MA.
Image of Conant Ball room divider from vintage Norsemates catalog. Courtesy The Gardner Museum Inc., Gardner, MA.
Image of Conant Ball room divider from vintage Norsemates catalog. Courtesy The Gardner Museum Inc., Gardner, MA.

A special thanks goes to Robert Treptow at The Gardner Museum, Inc. in Gardner, MA, for providing us with research about the company and images from an undated Conant Ball catalog.

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