The Next Symposium!

We’re excited yet saddened with our preparations for the January 2015 Working Wood Symposium. This will be the first symposium since its inception in 1999 that our director, Jay Gaynor will not be present. The Working Wood Symposium was Jay’s baby, and it’s not going to be the same without him.  Jay was excited with the theme of desks and the pieces we had chosen.

Entitled ‘Desks: The Write Stuff’, the program will feature four very different desks presented by Bill, Brian, Ted and I, as well as a Seymour lady’s writing desk with tambour by guest presenter Robert Millard.

Bill will be presenting the earliest piece, a Philadelphia scriptor.  The maker, Edward Evans did us the favor of stamping his name and date, 1707, on the inside of the case. Turns out that it’s the earliest dated Philadelphia case piece!  This will be an interesting exploration.


Ever heard of a southern block front?  Sounds like an oxymoron to me. We’ve got a beautiful example in our collection, probably by a Norfolk, Virginia maker.  Brian has been dressing out stock for his presentation of this desk.


These two pieces are quite a contrast with some of the urban English cases being made in tidewater Virginia. I’ll be looking at the Galt desk and bookcase in detail. There are some interesting structural and aesthetic refinements that we’ll be exploring.


Finishing out this century is an exquisite Seymour lady’s writing desk with tambour.  The federal period is Robert Millard’s niche.  Below is a piece from Robert’s web site, We’re still canvasing museums for the particular piece to present.


And finally in contrast to all of this is a utilitarian piece, a desk on frame from the Virginia Piedmont.  Ted Boscana will take a brief look at some of the idiosyncrasies of this country piece.

As always there will be a lot of action, good food, camaraderie, tools, tours and entertainment.  The full program will be posted in a couple of weeks on the Colonial Williamsburg web site.  Till then, in the words of Jay Gaynor, “keep calm and carry on”.


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6 Responses to The Next Symposium!

  1. I have a couple of 4-drawer chests in the style generally known as “American Empire”. Cherry w/poplar secondary is typical, as is a high level of joinery skill. My surmise has been that these pieces were quite common in early 19th c. America, particularly the southern mountains (I’m in Arkansas). Nutting barely touches the style, and I haven’t been able to find out much about their history from other sources. Any ideas?

  2. Margaret Berwind Schiffer in The Furniture and Makers of Chester County, illustrates a Delaware River Valley, probably Philadelphia, chest of drawers inlaid on the top with the initials” I B” and the date “1706”. If we accept the inlaid date as the year of the chest’s manufacture it predates the scriptor by one year and may also be the earliest inlaid object surviving from the Delaware Valley. The Evans scriptor is, however, the earliest dated and signed object surviving.
    What do you think about the way it is signed – with individual letter and number stamps? I am not familiar with this technique being used by joiners on their furniture. Full name stamps or brands used by some Philadelphia Windsor chair makers beginning in the 1740’s is closest related way of marking I can think of. I also don’t recall letter or number stamps being present in a joiners inventory. Why would Evans have a set? Could lead type have been used on the soft white cedar drawer bottom to produce the mark?

    • Luke, can you please give me an accession number. Whenever I link to a specific item from the CW E-Museum, the link takes me to the homepage rather than the specific object. This is happening with your link. Thanks!

  3. I’m sincerely hoping I can get away and attend this year but just in case good luck with the symposium. Your opening statement reminded me of my last visit. I decided to check out the smart phone app and had a bittersweet moment when I kept seeing pictures of Jay in just about every trade shop.

  4. Pingback: Another Symposium Done Gone | Anthony Hay's, Cabinetmaker

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