W.K. Cowan & Company records

Inclusive Dates: 
Survey Repository: 

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

2 linear feet of material consisting of advertisements, stationary, lists, clippings, and other materials generated by W.K. Cowan & Company, a Chicago manufacturer and distributor of Colonial-style furniture and decorative objects, including a company advertisement clipped from the Ladies Home Journal (October 1898); a blank piece of company stationery; a draft of Cowan catalog descriptions; a Cowan reorganization plan (2 January 1902); a bookplate for William Kenneth Cowan; a list of items purchased by Cowan & Company (18 June 1906); a four-page handwritten essay on the history of tapestry; a company price circular; clipped pages from The International Studio (December 1909) featuring a multiple-page Cowan & Company advertisement; and 44 drawings of furniture, evidently produced for reproduction in company catalogues and brochures. Also included are several magazines and publications such as Sport Story Magazine (1931) and Chicago Stadium Review (1936).

Biographical Historical Note

W. K. Cowan & Company was a Chicago furniture manufacturer founded in 1894 by William Kennett Cowan (1869-1928) and incorporated in 1901; by 1905 it had one of the largest furniture factories in Chicago, with a separate retail store on Michigan Avenue. The company sold its remaining inventory in 1916 to Gimbel Brothers of Philadelphia, but maintained a small furniture business until about 1920.