newly discovered louis h. sullivan polychromed lightographed tin stoveboard joins bldg. 51 museum collection

exceptional polychrome lithographed galvanized steel stove board identified as louis h. sullivan's final commission prior to his untimely death in 1924. sullivan may have secured the two hundred dollar commission through his former draftsman, frank lloyd wright, who designed a prairie style house for ward willits, director of the chicago-based american stove board company. 


only three sullivan designs were thought to exist according to a 1920’s american stove board company's product catalog. the latest acquisition, discovered in northern minnesota, offers the possibility of other, yet to be discovered designs, fabricated by either american or perhaps another stove board manufacturer. in addition, this parlor board is one of only two known examples to have a multi-colored finish.


the stove board or platform is comprised of a wood core, in the form of interlocking boards with a finely detailed lithographed sheet tin cover crimped along the edges. the sullivan-designed stove boards feature visually striking patterns with distinctive interplay between geometric shapes and richly organic design motifs.
stove boards were used as a preventive measure against house fires by acting as a protective barrier between dropping embers emitted from potbelly stoves and the wood flooring found below.

additional louis h. sullivan-designed stove boards housed in the bldg. 51 museum collection are shown below. in the twelve years i've spent aggressively seeking out these historically important stove boards, only two have surfaced containing a polychromed finish. based on the most recent discovery, i'm becoming increasingly convinced that additional color schemes were used, but to what extent remains to be seen. in addition, further research is needed to determine whether sullivan contributed to the choice of colors applied to the designs he executed exclusively for the american stove board company.

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