Wenzel Friedrich And His Horn Furniture

Photo WG2 smallHi!  Winnie Griggs here.

Like several others have already mentioned here, I had a great time at the RWA conference in San Antonio last month.  But I made it even more fun by tagging a family vacation on the front end.  Hubby and I, along with three of our kids and our son-in-law, arrived in the city the Saturday before the conference and spent three days seeing as much of what San Antonio.

We visited a lot of cool places and I posted pictures of some of them on my facebook page if you’re interested in checking them out.

But the one I want to talk to you about today is the Buckhorn Museum.  We arrived around 12:30 so we went to the restaurant area first to grab a bite to eat.  And that’s when I discovered where the place got it’s name.  There were horns and antlers displayed everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.  I’ve never seen so many in my life.  Then, when we went into the museum itself we found numerous displays of furniture that used horns as part of the construction.  Curious, I took a number of photographs and then did a bit of research on the subject when I got home.

It seems that most of the furniture pieces were constructed by a gentleman by the name of Wenzel Friedrich.  Mr. Friedrich was born in Bohemia in 1827.  By 1853 he had made his way to Texas and settled in San Antonio..  A year later he married one Agnes Urbanek and together they had seven children.  Their youngest son, Albert Friedrich, is the man who would one day found the Buckhorn.

Wenzel had several jobs after he traveled to Texas but eventually resumed his work as a cabinet maker, something he’d received some training in in his home country.  By 1880 he had his own business and was listed in the city directory as a manufacturer of horn furniture.  I couldn’t find anything that explained WHY he started making horn furniture, but apparently he was quite good at it.  He received gold medals for his craftsmanship in a number of shows, including the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition of 1883, the New Orleans Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884-85 and the Southern Exposition of Louisville, Kentucky in 1886.  And his furniture was prized overseas as well, making its way into the hands of such  dignitaries as Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck.

Wenzel passed away in 1902, but his furniture endures.  Today you can find examples in museums throughout the USA.

Below are some of the pictures I took of this unusual furniture.


Composite horn furniture


So what do you think?  Do you like the look of these?  Would you like to have pieces like this in your own home?

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

22 thoughts on “Wenzel Friedrich And His Horn Furniture”

  1. Oh my, Winnie, I have never seen the use of so many horns in furniture like in the pictures you took. You would definitely have to have just the right place for these pieces in my opinion. Though this furniture is not my choice, it is amazing that the horns are used as they are and the creativity of Wenzel Friedrich still lives on.
    Thank you for sharing Winnie!

  2. Talk about your conversation starters. Wow! I like rustic western furniture, but I don’t think the horned look is quite the décor choice I would want. Seems a little dangerous. Even though my kids are older now, I can just see one of my boys rough-housing in the living room and impaling themselves on a chair. Yikes!

    Very unique stuff, though. I’ve seen antlers and horns make into chandeliers, and those are a little easier to wrap my mind around. At least they are out of arm’s reach and less likely to do someone an injury. Ha!

    • Hi Karen. That was my first thought as well – I can just see a group of roughhousing kids doing some serious damage to themselves (or their cohorts) on these! And you just know these would be fascinating magnets to kids who couldn’t resist climbing up on them.

  3. Great post, Winnie. I loved the Buckhorn and this furniture and once posted on it at another blog. I’m not crazy about the taxidermied critters but elk and deer lose their antlers naturally so I am all for this stuff. But I’m more into comfort LOL.

  4. I would be afraid I would hurt myself on one of those by accident… trip or something and then ouch! Creative, but not my cup of tea!

  5. How interesting, Winnie! Thank you so much for including pictures of these unique creations. The Buckhorn Museum sounds like a great place to visit. The next time we are down that way, we will certainly make this one of our stops!

    • Britney, you’re quite welcome. And if you ever do get a chance to visit the Buckhorn, one of the really fun bonuses you’ll find there is that it also houses a Texas Ranger Museum. I got lots of pictures there as well. 🙂

  6. These pieces are nice and perfect for the right situation. They wouldn’t fit very well in most homes. I have seen them in room settings and they can be very nice. A ranch den, a cabin, or even a western bar or dining establishment would all make a good home for them.

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