Thomas Molesworth designs varied greatly over his lifetime. Below is summary of some of his notable design styles.
The Keyhole Chair
Of the many Molesworth designs that Shoshone Furniture Company made, I would have to say the keyhole chair in various forms was and still is most people’s favorite. With many different configurations of leather in combination with routing, tacks, and, on rare occasions, Chimayo weavings, this classic design spanned Molesworth’s entire career. As the dining or side chair of choice, it is a credit to Ed Grigware, who configured the designs, and Russell Blood, who routed many of them. They made a vivid statement with a simple design form. I cannot remember a keyhole chair that lasted more than a week in my shop. There is always a long waiting list for them.
The Shoshone Furniture Company designs that I usually encounter are couches and club chairs. It seems as though many of the smaller accessory items, such as magazine stands, wastebaskets, smoking stands, and table accessories, were either discarded or did not sell as well as the larger pieces. Although I have not found original prices for these small accessories, I am sure they were quite expensive, as they required a lot of time to make. The iron rabbits and burro ashtrays may have been purchased for resale. I purchased a number of extra rabbit ashtrays from the estate of Doug Skillikorn, a longtime exmployee of Molesworth. I do know that the Fred Harvey Company sold both versions in their gift shops in the 1930s and 1940s. The rabbit with its Alberto Giacometti-style (twentieth-century Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor) is a wonderfully whimsical piece that fits perfectly with Molesworth’s sometimes whimsical interiors.
Tables and Stands
Shoshone Furniture Company made an amazing array of stands, tables, and rare coffee tables. Of the twelve coffee tables that I am aware of, I have owned ten. The functional yet decorative tables are extremely complex with routed panels and often amazing chessboard tops. I have not seen two alike; they all have subtle differences.
Sofa-Back and Side Tables
Molesworth devised an original design concept that included a variety of sofa-back tables and side tables unique to this period. The tables are very functional; however, large spaces are required to accommodate them, which is why they are few and far between. Most of them come from large lodges.
Shoshone Furniture Company made a wide array of table and floor lamps, utilizing a variety of different materials and painted goatskin shades to add color and design. Russell Blood’s cutout lamp shades added another dimension to these lamps.