Several weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit the home of a friend. I had understood that he had a significant collection of period furniture, but we were unprepared for what we saw. After his wife treated us to a cup of coffee, fresh fruit and a delicious piece of sweet bread we started to explore. The walnut drop leaf table in the dining room had rails and legs very similar to tables attributed to the Anthony Hay shop in Williamsburg.
“And those side chairs next to it. Aren’t they from the ‘Walker school’”.
We weren’t out of the dining room yet and there were still more Virginia pieces. On the other side of the dining table stood a Thomas Miller side chair from Fredericksburg, Virginia. I replicated a more ornate version of the same chair more than twenty years ago. I was really starting to feel at home.
We moved into the living room. More surprises to come. Two beautiful Philadelphia side chairs with shell carved crest rails and trifid feet. The tilt top table between the chairs looked familiar; our host confirmed that it was Norfolk, Virginia.
On the other side of the room stood another very familiar piece. If you have ever been by our shop in Colonial Williamsburg you’ve seen it just inside the door, a John Seldon chest of drawers. The original that we replicated seventeen years ago has been at Shirley Plantation since the 1770′s, and here was another almost identical to it. This case piece has the same pull out under the top with scratched cock bead, the same progression of drawer heights with applied cock bead, the same drawer construction, etc., etc.. I felt like I was back in Colonial Williamsburg.
We all enjoyed the exploration. Here, Brian is looking at a nineteenth century New York sewing table, and Bill and Ted are inspecting an early stretcher base table.
You might have recognized the corner cupboard at the beginning of the blog. That was the first of several eastern shore pieces that we had the opportunity to see.
After a delicious lunch served by our gracious hostess, there was more to come. Being in the business of replicating eighteenth century work, we were especially interested in period tools.
There were examples of just about every category of woodworking tool,
and some that completely stumped us. Any ideas?
There was much more, but I’ve got to stop somewhere. Museum collections are just a big tip of the iceberg. Get out there and explore period homes, private collections, auctions. You never know what you will find. For me, it’s the story behind the pieces that I find so interesting. Material culture is not dead. Every piece has a story!