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Recently, while surfing on the Internet for interesting stories, I came upon some questions from readers asking about the worth of possible antiques. One question was about a music stand and another was about a rocking chair. In both instances there was a paper attached to these items that mentioned the Larkin Company of Buffalo, New York. Being originally from Buffalo, New York, this intrigued me and so I started doing some digging on Larkin.
It turns out; The Larkin Soap Company was founded in Buffalo, New York in 1875. The company was started by John D. Larkin, Elbert Hubbard and Darwin D. Martin. It started out as a soap company but in the early 1900’s it expanded to produce many other home products including furniture and even later they became pioneers in the mail order business. What is interesting to note about this company is that they were also pioneers in the marketing field. Items such as music stands and rocking chairs as well as other furniture were given away as premiums for product loyalty. This type of marketing became much more prominent during the Great Depression when other soap companies started putting Depression Glass into their soap boxes as incentives to buy and to maintain product loyalty.
Another interesting note about the Larkin Company was that the Larkin Building was built by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright in 1904. However after the Great Depression, the Larkin Company’s sales declined and they were forced into bankruptcy. The building was foreclosed on in 1945 and later sold in 1949. Sadly, in 1950 the building was demolished to make way for a parking lot of all things. Pictured is a chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Larkin Building.