Did somebody sign something in Philadelphia?

Drawing, Studying, Thinking...

Drawing, Studying, Thinking…


I have spent a good portion of this Independence Day thinking about something signed in Philadelphia in the eighteenth century.  No, it’s not what you think.  It’s Edward Evans, not John Hancock et al.  It’s 1707, not 1776. It is a walnut escritoire, the earliest documented signed and dated piece of Philadelphia furniture. (Note: if you click on that last link search 1958-468 to get our curator’s write up and photos of the piece.)

An escritoire made in Philadelphia by Edward Evans in 1707.  Here it is on display at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg.

An escritoire made in Philadelphia by Edward Evans in 1707. Here it is on display at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg (accession number 1958-468).

Here's the name stamp and date on the bottom of an interior drawer.

Here’s the name stamp and date on the bottom of an interior drawer.

I will be building and presenting this piece at the next Working Wood in the Eighteenth Century Symposium.  It looks like this coming year’s theme will be desks.  We are pretty excited about this really early piece of American cabinet work and another impressive example from our collection that we’ll reveal in the coming weeks.  Outside speakers and additional pieces are still being worked out, so look out for more information soon.

I look forward to sharing many interesting details about the escritoire with you online and at the symposium.  The construction techniques, workmanship, multitude of secret compartments, and design are all pretty fascinating and a bit different from the “normal” ways of working we like to imagine existed.  For now, I need to figure this thing out and start making some sawdust and shavings.  Really, I need to figure this out – I confess, I spent two full days with this behind the scenes and still managed to miss a secret compartment!

Here is my version of the piece so far:

You gotta start somewhere...

You gotta start somewhere…

Best wishes to all of you on this day of celebration and reflection.

Bill Pavlak.

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2 Responses to Did somebody sign something in Philadelphia?

  1. Dennis Heyza says:

    Bill,

    Looks like an interesting piece! I’ve been peeking at the conference page lately to see what the topic will be. Looking forward to hearing more details in the coming days.

    A happy 4th to everyone at the Hay Shop.

  2. Pingback: My, what big feet you have… | Anthony Hay's, Cabinetmaker

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