Decorated furniture

August 15, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

I have looked through all sorts of account books kept by furniture makers, but I have yet to find an entry that indicates anything like inlay. Maybe they used a different term? What a shame I couldn’t find anything, since the last in our summer furniture series will include a demonstration of inlay by Steve Latta. The lecture/demonstration is scheduled for Friday, August 17 at 6:00 pm. at the CHS.

Instead of inlay, I looked for other forms of decoration in the account book of Solomon Cole of Chatham, Connecticut, 1794-1809. In 1800 he painted eight dining chairs yellow for John Hale. For Thomas Hunt he made a bureau with swelled brackets (1802). In 1807 he made Thomas Stevens 6 fan-backed chairs in black, with ornamentation. He also made at least two candle stands with beading and  painted cradles, blinds, bedsteads, chairs (at least three orders were for yellow and blue and several sets of “ornamented”) and chests.

In reading through Cole’s account book, I was struck by the man’s versatility–he made scythes, whiffletrees for wagons and carriages, made and painted sleighs, repaired broken tool handles, and made the occasional coffin. One also gets from the entries the types of furniture a household would not want to be without, such as arm, rocking and dining chairs, bureaus, breakfast and dining tables, and candle stands. So, although I did not find any evidence of inlay, I learned a great deal about the social and economic life of Chatham in the early 19th century. Time well spent, I would say.

You may see Solomon Cole’s account book at the Research Center. Ask for Ms 72771.

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