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 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.
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.
Members organising their 2019 diary may wish to note the RFS Events Programme for the forthcoming Spring / Summer.
Full details and booking forms will appear in the Spring newsletter in late January.
Saturday 9 March 2019 Research in Progress: The Regional Chair, Conway Hall, Central London
Tuesday 26 March 2019 – A visit to a member’s collection in Soho, London
Monday 13 May 2019 – The Pepys Library and Kettles Yard, Cambridge
Wednesday 10 – Sunday 14 July 2019 – The Annual Conference, Shropshire.
Thursday 5 September 2019 – A private visit to Oak House, West Bromwich.
A date for your diaries:
RFS members will be interested to hear about a two day symposium considering the rush seated chair, to be held at Marchmont House, Berwickshire this September.
This symposium will investigate the rush seated chair in all its facets, from the material and the ways in which the rush seats were made, to the widespread variety of vernacular types. Discussion will lead to some of the talented architect/designers whose names became associated with their revival. The scope of the symposium will cover all contexts, from the urban to the rural; from the country house to the cottage.
Full details of the event and the programme can be seen here Programme, and tickets can be purchased via the Eventbrite website here: The Rush Seated Chair – A celebration of past, present and future.
The Society is delighted to confirm that our annual conference and AGM will go ahead, with only minor alterations to the program and venues, caused by the recent fire at the School of Art.
We expect to visit all planned venues (including the famous Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street), but not of course the school itself.
We look forward to hearing from the architects, specialist contractors and makers involved with the recent restoration, some of whose work was safely stored off-site when the fire took place.
Please note that the Conference is now sold out.