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Thread: R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Alexandria VA
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    Default R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

    One of my best cabinentmakers hadn't been answering his phone this past fall. George was elderly, and I figured that he'd been visiting his kids and away from the shop for the winter. His pieces are expensive and demand had fallen off for them, so I didn't pay much attention to not communicating with him until a customer wanted a custom mirror with brass sconce from George, so I set to find out where he was in earnest the other day. All his phones had been disconnected and I tried to find one of his adult children but to no avail. Finally I decided to see if I could find any obituary notices on the web and I finally did. He passed away last summer at the age of 86.

    George was a real character. He could tells stories like nobody's business, all the way back to meeting Civil War veterans on the Gettysburg battlefields on Memorial Day back when he was a teenager in the 1930's. He was also the finest cabinetmaker I have ever known. Meticulous to a fault, he never rushed and didn't care if it took a year to make a piece. It was going to be perfect in every way. He never shipped a thing, and never let me go to his shop to pick it up. He'd drive everything down from his Oxford PA shop even if it was just a single small mirror. Once here, he's stay for a few hours and tell lies and swap stories with me. The last few years he was so hunched over I don't know how he made the trip, or loaded pieces in his car, but he did.

    I have a lot of George's pieces in my house. He's was a cabinentmaker's cabinetmaker - not for everyone because of the prices charged, but for those that are into art of furniture. I had him make me a slant lid desk to my specifications many years ago - it was totally stunning and took a year to build. I brought it into the shop to show off, and a customer just had to have it. I was building a new home and decided to sell it, being cash poor at the time and of course, now I wish I had it!

    Here's a photo (only one I have of him) of George back in his 60's when I first met him. And one of the last pieces I have in the store that show his work. He was the best!
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    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  2. #2
    D53 Guest

    Default Re: R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

    Sorry to hear it, Duane. I am only now beginning to develop an appreciation for fine furniture and I enjoyed hearing about someone who evidently was a true craftsman.

  3. #3
    Sarah Guest

    Default Re: R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

    I remember you mentioning George in a previous post or two. I am sorry to hear the news!

  4. #4
    Curley Maple Guest

    Default Re: R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

    Duane,

    As my wife and I were driving through the mountains today our thoughts turned to George Beshore and we both wondered if any mention of his was to be found on the web. To our delight, we came across your remembrance of George and, for a moment, we both returned to a world that was seemingly lost.

    George was a fixture at our table for the best part of thirty years, he was a friend. And, over those decades, we too had the good fortune to be on the receiving end of his largess. The story started as I was going through a furniture store and came across a most unusual Gunston Hall cabinet. It was not old, but done in a fashion of great craftsmanship. I asked “what can you tell me about this cabinet?” and, with the response of “it is quite old” I knew that I would have to search down the man that made it as it was not "old"….just perfect. I tracked down the lady that had sold it to the shop, bad marriage it seemed, one in which she has sold her possessions, including this cabinet. “Where did you get it?” and then the answer came, “George Beshore.” I then tracked George down, and for 30 some odd years we became friends. At times, I would send a couple thousand board feet of what was the finest Curly Maple that could be had his way. Didn't matter where it was sourced, off it went to George. Enough to make curved front side board drawers, as thick as 3”, corner molding thicker, anything he wanted, as much as he needed. He was set free, a burden was lifted. George was as interesting and as complicated as some of the stories he told. Many do not know that he was once a nuclear physicist of some reputation, enough to place him squarely in the middle of a number of projects that would result in a latter lifetime of distancing himself from the field altogether and purposefully. He wanted something more uplifting, more lasting….more positive. Furniture would be it. After his wife, and later “the boy”, George was all about his shop and his work. Demanding of himself to a fault, on more than one occasion a Fishtail Corner Cabinet, perfect to a trained eye, would be cast upon his burn pile as, somewhere, a flaw had been found. Burnt, as no remainder other than perfection would be left of George’s furniture.

    George’s production insured his legacy. He worked on the important pieces by himself, taking these most magnificent pieces and, after doing what few would do….beating them with chains, soaking ball feet in water until they cracked….or not…he delivered the very finest that could be rendered by either the bounty of the wood or the hand of the craftsman. Close to eight years for a tall clock, five years for a standing corner cabinet, closer to four for a side board, a year each for seemingly endless hanging cupboards and mirrors. Chest-on-Chest, desks? A long time…all now in the past and, as such, the wait was meaningless as the pieces remain. I think he knew that all along. Once, after his death, I was visited by an old friend whose husband it turned out was a dealer of some consequence. Upon entering the house he stopped cold and essentially stood there pointing, stuttering out "Is this...these...are...are they all George's?" My wife said, yes, we are only here to watch over them. We still feel that way all these years later.

    Not a picture can be taken in our house without finding George behind our shoulders, shining through, ghosting about. He is all around those of us lucky enough to have his works.
    Somewhere I have a box of George and George’s world, I’ll try to dig it out and post a few shots by way of remembrance. What I would give to see him sitting there at breakfast like Bilbo at thirdsies. Content, contemplative and ready to tell a story about what happened…just the other day…strangest thing.

    Thanks for taking us back…..

    A poor review by way of breadth nor photography, but as I never took a picture of George's work as "furniture", he only now appears in photos as a Sentinel watching over us all...







    Last edited by Curley Maple; 04-14-2013 at 03:06 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

    I stumbled upon this wonderful thread when I was planning an upcoming lesson on leadership for a course I'm designing. George Beshore was my grandfather and more importantly a friend and mentor. I'm moved to see such kind words for a man who dedicated his entire life to his craft (and did it quite well). I find myself thinking about him quite often reflecting on the many car rides we took to deliver furniture. I know these posts are old, but I'm still hoping that there are those out there who remember Pop the way I do. Thank you for the boost today!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Alexandria VA
    Posts
    14,584

    Default Re: R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

    Two of your Grandfather's pieces just went for auction a few days ago at Pook and Pook. I missed bidding on them by one day. The desk here I would have paid up to $ 6,000 for (someone got a deal on this), and there is a corner cupboard he made in the same auction but doesn't have his name on it. It was an early one before he put the dental mold on the top. I was going to buy that one, too (even though I already own one in my house). I have traveled all around the East Coast meeting skilled woodworkers over three decades and met many very good ones. George was the best I ever saw.. He made better furniture than the priceless antiques in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC (seen those, too). He was slow and turned out few pieces, but oh-so-meticulous. The only pieces in my own home I will never sell are my Beshore ones, I will always own those.

    A little story about your Grandfather as well that you may or may not know. He collected Ming Dynasty Porcelain and China. Not replicas, the real deal. He kept it in his woodworking shop. I asked him once "George, are you crazy? In your shop? With all that dust and fire hazard? You should have that at home in a locked glass display". He said with a wry smile "I spend all my time in my wood shop, so that's where I will enjoy it the most". And that made perfect sense.


    https://pookandpook.com/auction/onli...search=beshore

    https://pookandpook.com/lot/bench-ma...pboard-4074258
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  7. #7

    Default Re: R.I.P. George Beshore of Pennsylvania

    Wow! That's amazing! I'm so glad that you love his work as much as I do. His sideboard is the centerpiece of our house. It was made by him and my grandmother and I'd argue that it is his most beautiful work (I'm biased...). I had to chuckle when reading the above post about the burn pile...that man must have made and destroyed more pieces than he ever came close to selling. Saying the word secretary desk would instantly send him into a look of despair. If I'm not mistaken he may have only completed 2 or 3 of those his entire career.

    The porcelain...oh yes...still makes me smile.

    I'm glad we connected...would love to chat further about my grandfather and his work. It makes me so happy to know that his work is still valued by so many.

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