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Authentic Designs -- since 1966

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Authentic Designs, so we thought we'd share with you some stories and photos of the first fixtures we built. We also wanted to share with you a really cool wooden sign, which my father Danny Krauss had created and displayed in that first location. He opened his first shop in 1966 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, on 61st and Lexington Avenue. It was just above street level, next to the Sutton Clock Shop, and kitty-corner from Bloomingdale's. 

Wood turning, scroll machine parts and spinnings were provided by local manufacturers then based in Manhattan. Sheetmetal work was provided by Abe Flam on 93rd St., which ultimately led to his partnership with my father, and my apprenticing to him. (Visit our History page for more details on that story.)

Some of the fixtures that were popular in those early days are shown below:

Susquehanna Chandelier

The first fixture Danny Krauss ever built was the CH-170, which became the signature piece in our logo.

Chester Lantern
The original for this fixture was found in Chester VT. It's a 19th century style originally manufactured by the Wheeler company.
Tulip sconce
The motif derives from Pennsylvania Dutch Hex symbols (as does our Heart Sconce as well).
Swedish Farm House Chandelier
based on an original 19th century chandelier which Danny bought at an auction, painted in the traditional black and red. 

See other Lighting Fixtures from the early days of Authentic Designs

All wooden store sign, hand-lettered & painted, circa 1966.

(Click to enlarge photo)

And on a more philosophical note, we'd like to share with you this wooden sign that my father made soon after opening his shop. It cites the museums and other sources for the original models for these fixtures, as well as some of the classic texts of Early American lighting design. We especially enjoy rereading this account of what we do and why:

"While minor variations exist, the character, form and spirit of the original are all encompassed in each model. Wherever feasable, manufacturing operations are hand ones, thus eliminating the artificial feeling created by mass productions techniques. The brass stems, for instance, typical of these hand measures, are individually bent and shaped, using methods employed two centuries ago."

My father used a solid plank of southern yellow or other hard pine to fashion the sign board. It was then hand-lettered by Simms Taback, a lifelong friend of my father’s who was a Caldecott Award-winning children's book author and illustrator. (Simms also designed Authentic Designs' first logo, based on our popular Susquehanna Chandelier.)

Over the years, the “forty models of chandelier made to order” have expanded to nearly four hundred models. In addition to the original Federalist, Shaker, and other Colonial and Early American designs, we do numerous custom projects derived from design periods that run the gamut: Contemporary, Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco, Arts & Crafts and Mission styles, just to name a few.

Rereading the text of this sign today, 50 years later, we’re reminded how much has changed, and how much stays true.