Lecture dates for a new publication: The Cabinetmaker’s Account by Jay Robert Stiefel

The Cabinetmaker's Account: John Head's Record of Craft & Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753, by Jay Robert Stiefel

The Cabinetmaker’s Account: John Head’s Record of Craft & Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753, by Jay Robert Stiefel

Suffolk-born joiner John Head immigrated to Philadelphia in 1717 and became one of its most successful artisans and merchants. However, Head’s prominence had been lost to history until Jay Stiefel’s discovery of his account book at the American Philosophical Society Library. Head’s account book is the earliest and most complete to have survived from any cabinetmaker working in British North America or in Great Britain and offers a 35-year ‘moving picture’ of an 18th century cabinetmaker’s daily life.

Historian, lawyer, and collector Jay Robert Stiefel is an authority on the crafts and commerce of Colonial Philadelphia and the institutions founded by Franklin for the welfare of its tradesmen. He studied history at the University of Pennsylvania and Christ Church, Oxford. Stiefel’s writings and lectures on social history have restored to the historical record many early craftsmen, artists, and merchants whose prominence had been obscured by the passage of time.

Jay will be presenting a lecture to introduce his new book at three venues over the next month:

Tuesday April 30th at 5:00 p.m. Christ Church, Oxford. Free, but booking required via the Christ Church website.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019, 6.00pm – 8.00pm Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Cost: £28 – see the Furniture History Society website.

Thursday, May 9th. 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Lyon & Turnbull, Broughton St. Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 557 8844 for details.

The Annual Christopher Gilbert Lecture, Friday 12 July, 2019

The annual Christopher Gilbert lecture for 2019 will be given by Hans Piena on The History of the Dutch Ladder-back Chair.  We met Hans at the Netherlands Open Air Museum on our Netherlands tour in 2001.  His lecture will take place after dinner on Friday 12th July at Harper Adams University as part of the annual RFS conference in Shropshire.
There are now two lectures planned for the conference with a third possible. Currently there are still a few places available for the full conference, but if you wish to attend supper and the Hans Piena’s lecture only, please contact the events secretary, Jeremy Bate at events.rfs@gmail.com 

Research in Progress 2019: The Regional Chair

The 2019 RFS Research in Progress meeting will be held at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, on Saturday 9th March.

This year the event will focus on the regionality of chair making, with five papers spanning the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Speakers will examine a variety of idiosyncratic forms, the materials used, the makers, and their customers. Traditions commence as novelties and in many cases new research is establishing the precise origins of previously identified geographical groups. The papers will draw on a variety of research methods including fieldwork, archival sources and scientific analysis.

  • The Caqueteuse Form in 17th century Scotland – Stephen Jackson
  • Chairmaking in 18th Century Wakefield – Andrew Cox-Whittaker
  • The Rush-Seated Chair in the North West of England – Simon Feingold
  • Windsor Chairmaking in Grantham: the first fifteen years – William Sergeant
  • In Search of the Elusive Mendlesham Chair and Other East Anglian Windsor Chairs – Robert Williams

Further details about the presentations and speakers are available here on our new Research in Progress page.

The event will start at 10 for 10.30am, and will finish at 4.30pm. It is open to all. The fee is £35 for RFS members, £40 for non-members and covers attendance and tea/coffee but not lunch; there are numerous cafes and pubs nearby. To book please use the form on the Events page of the RFS website.

A number of 50% bursaries will be available (application details are available on the Grants & Bursaries page). The deadline for applications is 19th February

Exhibition: Thinking inside the box

Members will be interested to hear about an exhibition currently on show the Bodleian’s Blackwell Hall, Weston Library in Oxford. Thinking inside the box is a display of boxes, bags, and satchels used for carrying books at different times and places – inspired by the Bodleian’s recent acquisition of a book-coffer from fifteenth century medieval Paris.

The exhibition runs until 17 February 2019, Further details are available from the Weston Library Information desk: 01865 277094 or the website: Thinking inside the box

RFS 2019 Events Update

Please note that the RFS visit to Cambridge on 13th May “Pepys Library and Kettles Yard’ is now fully booked.

With this in mind, members are reminded that the annual Research in Progress event takes place on Saturday 9 March 2019 at the Conway Hall, London. Please use the One day events booking form – Spring 2019.

This year the event will focus on the regionality of chair making, with five papers spanning the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Speakers will examine a variety of idiosyncratic forms, the materials used, the makers, and their customers. Traditions commence as novelties and in many cases new research is establishing the precise origins of previously identified geographical groups. The papers will draw on a variety of research methods including fieldwork, archival sources and scientific analysis.

  • The Caqueteuse Form in 17th century Scotland – Stephen Jackson
  • Chairmaking in 18th Century Wakefield – Andrew Cox-Whittaker
  • The Rush-Seated Chair in the North West of England – Simon Feingold
  • Windsor Chairmaking in Grantham: the first fifteen years – William Sergeant
  • In Search of the Elusive Mendlesham Chair and Other East Anglian Windsor Chairs – Robert Williams

Further details about the presentations and speakers will available on the Research in Progress page.

The event will start at 10 am for 10.30am, and will finish at 4.30pm. It is open to all. The fee is £35 for RFS members, £40 for non-members and covers attendance and tea/coffee but not lunch; there are numerous cafes and pubs nearby.

A number of 50% bursaries will be available. Application forms are available here: Grant & Bursary application forms.

£4 Million Restoration: Historic House Rescue

Tomorrow, Wednesday 16th January at 9pm, More 4 is broadcasting  the first of two programmes called the £4 Million Restoration, which may be of interest to members. It documents the restoration of a Landmark Trust farmhouse in the Black Mountains, dating from c 1400. A new dating technique has been used which is claimed to work on timber previously undateable by conventional methods.

Further information is available in this article in The Guardian: newspaper: Welsh farmstead is rare medieval hall house, experts confirm and the programme details can be found here: Historic House Rescue.