A 1954 Hammacher Schlemmer ad for their “Table Talk” line of wood accessories, featuring handmade wares crafted by Emil Milan.

A 1954 Hammacher Schlemmer ad for their “Table Talk” line of wood accessories, featuring handmade wares crafted by Emil Milan.

 Cover of the 1954 Hammacher Schlemmer Gift Catalog

Cover of the 1954 Hammacher Schlemmer Gift Catalog

A great American company founded in 1848, Hammacher Schlemmer has long been a purveyor of the best, most unique, most useful—and sometimes unexpected and surprising—products to their discriminating customers.   During the decade following WWII, they offered a “Table Talk” line of wooden tableware and accessories in their catalogs and at their famous store on 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The Table Talk “sculptures,” as they called them, were designed by Emil Milan and made at his production shop called Buckridge Contemporary Design located in Orange, NJ. True to Hammacher Schlemmer’s core values, the items were leading edge modern designs, made of exotic imported hardwoods, hand finished, and available only from them. 

 

EXCERPT FROM EMIL MILAN: MIDCENTURY MASTER:

Buckridge items were sold in department stores in and around New York City, such as Hammacher Schlemmer, Bonniers, McCutcheons, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Bonniers, in particular, featured crafts and had a separate section of the store dedicated to handmade items. Competition among upscale department stores reached its peak during the prosperous postwar decades. Offering handmade and especially one-of-a-kind items was a marketing strategy designed to differentiate the store and attract more affluent customers. This same strategy was pursued on the West Coast by Gumps in San Francisco that, for example, offered bowls turned by Bob Stocksdale. Hammacher Schlemmer marketed Buckridge items as their Table Talk line of functional art in wood proudly claiming that each piece was expertly “hand crafted by Emilan."

 

From the Hammacher Schlemmer Gift Catalog 1954

Exclusively Ours
From our Contemporary Shop distinctive designs, hand sculptured by the renowned Emil Milan, in natural organic forms of rare woods from Africa, Central America, and North America. Each flowing contour is dictated by the beautiful graining so there are no two alike.

 A page from the 1954 Hammacher Schlemmer Gift Catalog, showcasing the exclusive "hand sculptured" work of Emil MIlan. 

A page from the 1954 Hammacher Schlemmer Gift Catalog, showcasing the exclusive "hand sculptured" work of Emil MIlan. 

 Two-compartment bowl featured in the Hammacher Schlemmer ad.  Emil Milan |  Table Talk Bowl  | Hardwood  |  1 1/4 x 7 3/4 x 14 1/2 inches |  Courtesy of Craig Edelbrock | Photo by John Carlano

Two-compartment bowl featured in the Hammacher Schlemmer ad. 
Emil Milan | Table Talk Bowl | Hardwood  |  1 1/4 x 7 3/4 x 14 1/2 inches |  Courtesy of Craig Edelbrock | Photo by John Carlano