People who make things by hand in America, particularly things made of wood, are a small breed of revivalists and family-legacy craftspersons. But one stable population of builders in little danger of being replaced by industrial robots are America's technology-eschewing Amish. Their population is estimated at 250,000, and while not all of them are able-bodied males, the ones that are still provide a sizable workforce.
Problem was, up until recently if you wanted to buy Amish goods, you needed to visit Lancaster or one of their other U.S. settlements. (It's not like you could fax them an order.) But lately they've either been letting the technology thing slide, or some enterprising non-Amish businessperson has partnered up with them, as there's now something I never thought I'd see: An Amish goods website.
The furniture sold on AmishHandcrafted.com is as stodgy as you'd expect, but what caught my eye are their line of steamer trunks made from maple and oak, with sliding tray inserts made from aromatic cedar.
Leather handles and brass or nickel hardware round out the $568 pieces, which seem pretty indestructible (though there is a $120 "old-world distressing" option, if you want them to look beat-up).
Lastly, if you want to pony up another $33 they'll add a custom-engraved nameplate.
Every once in a while I'll write up a product or furniture piece and get a thank-you e-mail from the designer/builder. I won't wait for that to happen this time, as whomever built these trunks is probably not sitting around reading this on their iPad.
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