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Kilian Brothers was founded in New York by German immigrants Theodore (born 1828 in Sinsheim, Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany - died 1915 in New York) and Frederich Kilian (born 1830 in Baden, died in 1901 in New York), joined shortly thereafter by their younger brother William (born 1834 in Baden, died 1902 in New York) in 1860. Frederich and William emigrated to the United States in 1850, and Frederich first appears as a chair-maker in a New York City Directory in 1850-1853. Older brother Theodore follows a few years later, circa 1854, and he is listed as a cabinetmaker in the 1856 - 1857 Directory. The business, founded in 1858, employed 110 or more workers by 1870. They were successful in the competitive New York market against such larger films as Pottier and Stymus and Herter Brothers.
They were noted for making such fashionable and highly decorative furniture items at a moderate price point accessible to middle class Americans.
Kilian Brothers manufactured and retailed furniture in line with the tastes of the late Victorian era: Greek and Egyptian motifs with a polychrome "classical" palette of blue-green, red, black and gold. Their sales catalogue illustrated dozens of ornamental stands, pedestals easels, tables, and chairs. These parlor accessories were in what was called a Neo-Grec style, a contemporary French taste for classical forms reinterpreted with contrasting surfaces, gilt details, elaborate hardware, and complex upholstery.