Almost every shop that produced furniture in the late colonial and federal periods finished the surfaces of its products with some type of protective coating—wax, oil, varnish, color in varnish or size, stain, or paint. Color, stain, and paint also masked the natural color of the wood. The application of ornament further enhanced the aesthetic experience.
The material presented in this study is drawn from a large body of documents, consisting of craftsmen’s account books and sheets, clients’ business records, court and shipping records, probate records for general households and those of craftsmen, a manuscript price book, newspapers, technical books and articles published in the period under study, and selected primary references from recent publications. The geographic coverage is broad: New England, the Middle Atlantic region, the South from Maryland to Georgia, and Kentucky and Ohio in the “West.” Within these political boundaries, the culture varied from rural to urban economies. Material originating in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania is the most plentiful.
The most popular furniture form in the late colonial and federal periods was the chair, beginning with common woven-bottom utilitarian styles constructed with slats, splats, or banisters, followed by the Windsor chair, and culminating in the fancy chair. Some material used for this study contains information pertaining to the purchase and cost of raw materials, tools, and accessories used in painting and other surface coatings. Recipes for paint colors provide further insight on period practice.
References in late colonial and federal period records to surface coatings on furniture, especially paint, are relatively frequent; actual color identification is unusual. Jacob Bigelow in his two-volume The Useful Arts noted that the object of “common painting” is “to produce a uniform and permanent coating upon surfaces, by applying to them a compound, which is more or less opaque.” He further noted that “in many cases painting is applied only for ornament, but it is more frequently employed to protect perishable substances from the changes to which they are liable when exposed to the atmosphere, and other decomposing agents.” Bigelow concluded by stating, “The effect and durability of different coverings employed in this way, depends upon the kind of pigment used, and still more upon the vehicle, or uniting medium, by . . . which it is applied.”
SIDE CHAIRS AND ARMCHAIRS
GENERAL COMMENTS ON SURFACE EMBELLISHMENT
General references to paint and other surface coatings on chairs describe a substantial body of data that includes all constructions and styles. A few references note the number of finish coats applied to surfaces, new or refurbished. That number varies from one to four, one coat likely identifying the inexpensive utilitarian chair, higher numbers pointing to more sophisticated seating enhanced with ornament. For instance, work done by Silas E. Cheney at Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1821 for Orin Judd involved “Painting 9 Chairs 4 Coats.” The first coat was a primer. The three remaining coats may have included the pigment of choice, although since these chairs also were ornamented, the fourth coat likely was a varnish finish designed to protect the embellished surfaces.
“Old Chairs” are among the large group of refurbished seating itemized in craftsmen’s accounts. Artisans in urban centers regularly solicited this type of work in local newspapers as a complement to new production and structural repairs. Early-nineteenth-century craftsmen who advertised this service include Joseph Very of Portland, Maine; George Dame of Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Reuben Sanborn of Boston. Another Boston craftsman described the expectations of consumers: “Chairs repaired and repainted to look as good as new.” James Always of New York perhaps offered the ultimate service: “He has good accommodations for drying old chairs when re-painted, and he will take them from any part of the town, and return them in good order.”
The basic utilitarian chair ubiquitous to households had several names, one being “Common chair.” After leaving Massachusetts in 1809, Allen Holcomb worked as a journeyman in the shop of Simon Smith at Troy, New York, where he recorded “painting 6 Common chairs 2 C[oa]ts.” By 1813 Holcomb had resettled in Otsego County. Just as familiar to householders was the term “kitchen chair,” describing the chair’s principal place of use. True Currier of Deerfield, New Hampshire, recorded selling “seven kitchen chair frames painted” in 1828 at a charge of 50¢ apiece. Emphasis on the term “frame,” one with cross slats in the back, suggests that the seats were open, or without woven “straw” or “flag” (rush) to provide a solid bottom for sitting. An earlier account from the Amherst, Massachusetts, shop of Nathaniel Bangs addresses that feature in charging Captain Oliver Allen 60¢ apiece for “five Chair fraims and for painting and bottoming.”
Two alternative surface coatings for the common slat-back, or kitchen, chair were color in size (a gluelike material) and stain, both priced about the same for similar construction. From the early eighteenth century these finishes were in use on chairs constructed with three to five slats, often identified as three-, four-, and five-back chairs. Two New England shop accounts highlight the variable terminology: Joseph Brown of Newbury, Massachusetts, sold “4 Culler’d Chairs 4 backt” in 1741, followed by Isaiah Tiffany’s sale of “6 Chairs 4 Slats Colour’d” in 1756 at Norwich, Connecticut. Solomon Fussell of Philadelphia sold both colored and stained (“dyed”) chairs during the late 1730s and 1740s, the slats numbering from three to five. Fussell’s basic price for his three-slat side chair was 4 shillings. Each additional slat added a price increment: four-slat chairs cost 4s. 6d. to 5s.; five-slat chairs fetched 5s. 6d.; and Fussell’s “best” five-slat chairs cost 6s. or 6s. 6d. In the prevailing barter economy, several individuals found Fussell’s products useful for settling debts. In 1741 Joseph Marshall ordered “1/2 Duz best 5 Slat Chairs Dyed dd [delivered to] walter Coal [Cole]” and “1/2 Duz: three Slat Coular’d Chairs dd to ye plasterer.” Whereas delivery of finished chairs to a customer or his creditor may have been routine for Fussell, the practice had changed by the end of the century, and it was the customer’s responsibility to fetch furniture from the woodworker’s shop. Unusual events elicited comment, as noted in 1797 by Jacob Merrill Jr. of Plymouth, New Hampshire, in a client account: “going to your house & Colouring Six frames.”
The Windsor chair became an important market commodity in the post-Revolutionary period, catapulted to the forefront in the mid-1780s by the introduction of the bow-back side chair, also known as a “dining Windsor chair.” With its oval back, the bow-back Windsor required little space at the dining table, a boon in the large families typical of the period. Consumers had been aware of the basic benefits of Windsor seating since its introduction to American vernacular furniture in the mid-1740s: Windsor chairs were economical, the price somewhat more than slat-back seating but within range of middle-class pocketbooks; the construction was durable and practical; wooden seats were not subject to constant repair and replacement as were woven bottoms of straw, rush, or cane; and scuffed surfaces could be refreshed with a coat of paint. Bright-colored paint on furniture and walls had the power to bring life to dark and drab interiors. By 1800 Lawrence Allwine of Philadelphia offered “the best windsor chairs . . . painted with his own patent colours,” cited for their “brilliancy and durability.” A varnish finish protected painted surfaces, whether plain or ornamented. In April 1801 Oliver Goodwin, a Charleston, South Carolina, merchant, announced his receipt from New York of “300 Fancy Windsor Chairs . . . executed . . . with permanent and lasting varnishes to exceed anything . . . ever introduced in the southern States.”
Windsor chairs sent to the local woodworker for a fresh coat of paint might also need repair. Silas E. Cheney recorded a job at Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1820 that required “giting out nails out of 8 . . . Chair Seat[s] & Smothing Out Seats” before he could paint. Many chairmakers did their own painting; others, particularly proprietors of large shops, employed painting specialists as needed. Edward Jenner Carpenter, apprentice to Miles and Lyons at Greenfield, Massachusetts, noted in his journal on May 16, 1844, the shop visit of Mr. Wilson “to paint chair[s].” Wilson departed eight days later for his home in Colrain, a rural village nine miles northwest of Greenfield. Nelson Talcott of Portage County, Ohio, recorded similar activity in that decade, although his interaction with journeymen painters often was formalized with a contract. Typical, perhaps, was Talcott’s arrangement with William B. Payne, who began working on contract in February 1841 “at painting chairs”: “He [Payne] is to paint the Grountt work . . . of comon [Windsor] Chairs at three cents pr chair and be Bourded, or at three and three fourths cents each and Bourd himself—if he Bourds himself and Bourds with the said Talcott he is to have his Bourd for one dollar thirty seven 1/2 cents per Week.” Whichever boarding plan Payne chose, his piecework arrangement required that he paint approximately 167 chairs during a six-day work week to earn an average journeyman wage of 83.3¢ per day (5s.), or 200 chairs during the same period to earn a high wage of $1.00 per day (6s.). His profit depended on his skill and proficiency at the job.
Records indicate that journeymen led itinerant lives on occasion, picking up work where they could. Of relevance is an itinerancy recorded by Jacob S. Van Tyne, a sign and ornamental painter who left Cayuga County, New York, in January 1836 for a sojourn of more than three years, which took him as far afield as Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. The itinerant life bred uncertainty and anxiety, as Van Tyne noted in his journal in May 1838: “Arrived at Union Town, Pa, With my spirits very much cast down being out of money and in a strange place among total strangers.” He related how, while walking in town, “I happened to cast my eye up and saw a sign of a House, sign, and Ornamental Painter by the name of W. Maquilken. I immediately went in and applied for work and was successful. O! How thankful aught I to be for this interposition of Gods providence in thus snatching me from the immediate jaws of want and poverty and placing me out of the reach of either.” Van Tyne’s work pleased his employer, who within eleven days raised the painter’s wages to $16 per month, which, as Van Tyne noted, “Encouraged me very much and put me more in mind of the goodness of God in thus turning the scale of fortune in my favour.”
Fancy chairs represented a step up from Windsor seating in cost and sophistication, especially those with seats of woven cane rather than rush. Many shops that made Windsor chairs also framed fancy chairs, and the same specialists painted either type of seating. Among those painters were men who worked at times in Portage County, Ohio, for Nelson Talcott, who probably supplied the painting materials used by his workmen. A charge against Sylvester Tyler Jr. in 1840 for “Paint for 1 2/6 Set Fancy chairs,” or eight chairs, suggests that Taylor occasionally took on outside jobs on his own time while working in Talcott’s shop. A similar circumstance is suggested in the accounts of James Gere of Groton, Connecticut, who often employed area workmen to paint chairs. In 1824 John Ashley Willet, who resided independently at Norwich, was credited with painting and ornamenting fancy and Windsor chairs. On two occasions he was debited for “paint & Varnish &c. for Chairs,” the charges appearing to have occurred at a time when he was boarding with Gere.
Unlike the surface coatings on Windsor chairs, those on fancy chairs also employed materials other than paint. An early record of “12 Chairs Making & Japanning” dates to 1794, when William Lycett of New York produced seating for Chancellor Robert R. Livingston. In japanning, paint pigment was mixed with varnish and applied in layers over a special ground coat. The object of the process, which was imported from Europe, was to imitate oriental lacquer. Somewhat cheaper was the practice of staining fancy chairs. In 1819 at the death of Benjamin Bass, a cabinetmaker and chairmaker of Boston, appraisers itemized three groups of stained fancy seating in the shop: thirty-six chairs were “partly stain’d,” twelve more frames were fully stained, and a third group consisted of “12 Stain’d Chairs Flagg’d,” that is, coated frames with rush seats in place.
Fancy chairs and, in particular, Windsor chairs became important products of commerce in the post-Revolutionary period. Many chair shops, large and small, marketed seating furniture to customers beyond the local area in overland, coastal, and overseas locations. Because chairs were vulnerable to surface damage in transit, some craftsmen took steps to turn this situation to their advantage. The Wilmington, North Carolina, firm of Vosburgh and Childs whose business, like that of most Southern craftsmen, was compromised by Northern imports, advertised: “How far preferable chairs must be manufactured in the state, warranted to be both well made and painted with the best materials, to those that are imported, which are always unavoidably rubbed and bruised.” Thomas Henning Sr. of Lewisburg, West Virginia, addressed the hazard of overland transport, stating, “He would like to deliver chairs unpainted, and paint them where they are to be used, as hauling always injures the appearance of chairs that are painted.” Still other strategies were employed. Silas Cooper of Savannah, Georgia, traveled to “the north” to purchase “fashionable CHAIRS,” which on his return he “finished on the spot,” ensuring the paint was “not injured by transportation.” When Dockum and Brown, chair retailers at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, “received ONE THOUSAND CHAIRS, of various kinds and colors,” from Boston in 1827, they engaged “first rate workmen from Boston” to paint and gild the chairs at Portsmouth (fig. 1).
COLOR REFERENCES TO PAINTED SURFACES:
References to surface color are relatively common for chairs, unlike other furniture forms, a situation that permits an investigation of some depth by actual color group. First to be considered are “common” chairs with woven bottoms. In the seating hierarchy, they were first in the market and lowest priced. Among consumers, the most popular color choice in woven-bottom common seating probably was black, with white chairs and red chairs coming in second and third. White chairs were the cheapest, however, and this is where the discussion begins. The term “white” in this instance did not identify a paint color but instead denoted the absence of color, or chairs left “in the wood” without a surface coating. Later in the century the term came to identify a surface actually painted white.
The accounts of two craftsmen, Solomon Fussell of Philadelphia and John Durand of Milford, Connecticut, best amplify this point. Fussell produced “white” chairs between 1738 and 1748. Durand’s construction of unpainted chairs, which he referred to as “plain” chairs rather than white chairs, extends from 1763 to 1776 in this study. Together the accounts exhibit price variations for this basic chair from 1s. 4d. to 3s. 8d., an indication that customer options existed. When supplied, woven rush was the common seating material of both craftsmen’s chairs.
Durand’s product probably took the form of an open-frame chair with plain cylindrical front legs, back posts with minimal turned ornament, and two cross slats uniting the posts. Chairs of this type have family or other histories in Milford. Durand’s sale to Deacon Joseph Treat of “half a Dozen plain Chair[s]” in 1776 priced at 1s. 4d. each describes side chair frames without “bottoms,” or woven seats, and little turned work other than back-post finials (fig. 2). Plain chairs priced by Durand between 3s. and 3s. 8d. likely included one or more structural options beyond a basic frame: woven rush seats, turned work in the legs and posts, and possibly a third cross slat in the back.
Fussell’s “white” chair production at Philadelphia may have paralleled Durand’s work. His cheapest “white” frame, as sold to Abraham Linkcorn in 1743 for 2s. 3d., is described as “one white Chair w[ith] out armes.” This chair and Fussell’s white chairs priced at 3s. possibly had only two back slats, and both probably lacked rush seats. The difference between the two likely was in turned work. Fussell’s accounts further suggest that by increasing the white-chair price by 3d., the customer could acquire chairs with woven bottoms, as recorded for Richard Tyson, who bought “6 white Chairs & Mating” for 3s. 3d. apiece. Again, these chairs may have had only two cross slats in the backs because three-slat chairs sold to William Moss cost 3s. 6d. the chair, an indication that a third slat raised the price by at least 3 pence. Moss’s further purchases of “4 Reed [red] 3 Slat Chairs” and “4 Black 3 Slat Chairs” priced individually at 4s. and 4s. 6d., respectively, reinforces this reasoning. The greater pricing of the three-slat red and black chairs reflects the addition of paint to the wooden surfaces and possibly the introduction of more turned ornament.
Several decades later, in 1770, Fussell’s former apprentice William Savery sold “Eight white Rush bottom Chairs” priced individually at 4s. to the prominent Philadelphian General John Cadwalader, whose residence stood in Second Street between Spruce and Pine. The unit price of the chairs and their placement in a richly appointed town house, albeit in a service area, suggests the frames were painted white rather than left “in the wood.” Cadwalader’s purchase suggests that a new era sometimes requires a new interpretation of terminology.
Entries in the accounts of other craftsmen confirm the information gleaned from the records examined above: white chairs priced under 3s. usually had two back slats, and those priced at about 3s. to less than 4s. probably had three back slats. Supporting this conclusion are the early-eighteenth-century records of Miles Ward of Salem, Massachusetts, and John II and Thomas Gaines of Ipswich. Isaiah Tiffany penned similar midcentury records in eastern Connecticut, followed by accounts kept by David Haven at Framingham, Massachusetts. Two items from a list of “goods and things” given by John Baker of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, to his daughters Rebecca and Bathsheba in the 1760s serve to sum up: each received “six three-backs Black chairs” valued at 3s. apiece and “2 two-backs white chairs,” probably unpainted, that cost 2s. apiece.
Date and price are the criteria in interpreting common “black” chairs listed in craftsmen’s eighteenth-century accounts. If the date is early and the price low, slat-back chairs seem indicated. That style constituted Solomon Fussell’s entire black-chair production at Philadelphia during the late 1730s and 1740s. The chairmaker’s records describe his price structure for the slat-back models in black offered at his shop: a three-slat chair varied from 4s. to 4s. 6d.; the four-slat chair was 4s. 6d. or 5s.; and the five-slat model stood at 5s. to 5s. 6d. Thus, with the addition of each slat, the basic chair price increased by 6 pence. The cost of wood was negligible. The real expense of adding a slat was the labor: sawing the back piece to shape, shaving it to thickness and bending it to a lateral form, then cutting two mortise holes in the back posts, fitting the slat into the mortises, and pinning it in place. Special requests added an increment to chair cost. A customer who ordered a four-slat armchair paid about 6d. for the elbow pieces. Another customer who bought six new five-slat chairs substituted a “turn’d frunt” with thick double-vase turnings separated by a central disk (see fig. 6) for the basic cylindrical stretcher at an extra cost of 4d. or 5d.
Several New England craftsmen recorded the production of black slat-back chairs. In the 1720s and 1730s Miles Ward of Salem, Massachusetts, charged 4s. 6d. to 5s. for black “4 back” (slat) chairs. Elisha Hawley still made black chairs late in the century at Ridgefield, Connecticut, the price ranging from 2s. 8d. to 4s., suggesting that he sold two-, three-, and possibly four-back common chairs in the local market. Ward also recorded a somewhat more expensive set of black chairs purchased in 1737 by John Low at 6s. apiece. These may have been banister-back chairs with relatively plain crests and somewhat more ornate turnings than those usual on the slat-back chair. A “Great black Chair” priced at 8s. by Jacob Hinsdale, a contemporary of Ward at Harwinton, Connecticut, likely describes a banister-back armchair (fig. 3). At Milford John Durand possibly identified banister-back seating in 1774 in the sale of “half a Dozen black Chairs” priced individually at 6s. The banister-back style was especially popular along the Connecticut coast.
Some significance may be associated with the absence of a red chair from the production of three craftsmen who framed both black and white chairs before 1740. The records of Miles Ward and the Gaines family of Massachusetts and Jacob Hinsdale of Connecticut are silent on the subject. In contrast, the records of Solomon Fussell, who framed common chairs at Philadelphia from 1738 to 1748, indicate that he constructed “red” chairs with three to five back slats in addition to his white (“in the wood”) and black slat-back production. Fussell priced red and black chairs the same, although his red chairs appear to have been less in demand than his black or white chairs. As usual, payment was flexible; Isaac Knight Sr. paid for his “6 Reed 5 Slat Chairs” with “a Hog.”
What was the red paint used on chairs made by Fussell and other craftsmen at various locations, including New Hampshire, upstate New York, Nantucket Island, and Connecticut? Two nineteenth-century authors, Hezekiah Reynolds in Directions for House and Ship Painting (1812) and Nathaniel Whittock in The Decorative Painters’ and Glaziers’ Guide (1827), identified the principal pigments available for making red paint: vermilion, red lead, Venetian red, Spanish brown, and red ochre. A review of several dozen records dating between the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries indicates that craftsmen, based on their possession of these pigments, overwhelmingly favored Spanish brown and red lead as ingredients for red paint. Taking the analysis a step further, Spanish brown likely was the popular choice for painting “red” chairs in the eighteenth century because it is mentioned more frequently in records and because some red lead in the possession of craftsmen was destined for use as a drier in the preparation of linseed oil and varnish rather than as a pigment for exterior, interior, or furniture paint. Spanish brown, as known in the eighteenth century, was a reddish brown earth containing iron oxides that was processed for use as a pigment. The color probably was akin to the barn red known today.
As early as 1750 James Claypoole, a painter and glazier of Philadelphia, listed Spanish brown among a selection of imported pigments and related material offered for sale at his shop. The trade in this commodity expanded, and when Kenneth McKenzie, a fellow artisan in the craft at New York City, died in 1804, appraisers itemized among the painting materials on the premises forty “Kegs Spanish brown g[roun]d in oil 900 lb” valued at 4d. per pound. Already by 1800 it was not uncommon for purveyors of painting materials to stock products of demand, including Spanish brown, in quantities of one ton or more, as advertised by John McElwee at Philadelphia.
Beyond the Philadelphia shop of Solomon Fussell, red chairs were made in more northerly locations. John Durand of Milford, Connecticut, who constructed white (“plain”) chairs and some black chairs, had a substantial production of red chairs in the 1760s and 1770s. Unit costs of 4s. 6d. to 8s. suggest that several styles were represented, a circumstance supported by known production in coastal Connecticut. Durand’s “red” chairs priced in the lower range probably included banister-back and splat-back (“york”) chairs of basic turned side-chair form. The price increased with the selection of special options: arms, an ornamental crest, or embellished turnings. A red chair produced by Durand in the mid-price range of 6s. or 7s. had a splat back and distinctive turned front supports with trumpet-shaped legs and pad feet, a seating type probably referred to locally as a “fiddle-back” chair (fig. 4). Supporting this reasoning are the accounts of Titus Preston of the inland town of Wallingford. For a customer whose daughter was setting up housekeeping in 1804, Preston supplied a quantity of furniture, including Windsor chairs for the dining parlor (7s. 8d. each) and “6 red fiddle back chairs” for other household use (6s. apiece).
The slat-back style was part of red-chair production in other areas. For Ezekiel Robinson of Rockingham County, New Hampshire, Moody Carr made “a red Chaire for your Pew” in 1800, identified as a slat-back chair by its 3s. price. Three-back and four-back chairs painted red were popular on Nantucket Island in the late eighteenth century, judging by the numbers listed in inventories, which well exceed those painted black. Another back style may be represented by the “8 Red Common Chairs” purchased for 5s. each in 1793 from James Chestney of Albany, New York, by Madame Schuyler. Chestney’s advertisement for his “Chair Manufactory,” published in a local newspaper in 1797, illustrates the three chair styles he framed (fig. 5). The 5s. price best describes Chestney’s “fiddle-back” chair with a back splat and trumpet-style legs.
Craftsmen’s accounts identify several other paint colors used for common-chair surfaces, although their occurrence is infrequent. Most references focus on the color brown. The Gaines family of Ipswich, Massachusetts, produced at least one set of brown four-slat chairs. Between 1738 and 1748 their contemporary at Philadelphia, Solomon Fussell, sold brown chairs with three, four, and five slats priced from 4s. to 5s. Fussell’s customers may have favored brown chairs over red seating, although the numbers do not equal those of the shop’s black or “white” slat-back production. Other evidence of slat-back seating occurs in a list of furniture in the home of merchant Benjamin H. Hathorne at Boston, where “3 Brown Kitchen [Chairs]” valued at 5s. 3d. apiece probably were new and likely had arms. “5 new Brown Chairs” each valued at 4s. in 1793 also stood in the Nantucket home of widow Mary Pease, a trader. It is not known whether the “6 Chocolate coloured rush bottom’d Chairs” in the Chester County, Pennsylvania, household of William Jones in 1789 duplicated the brown color of other rush-bottom chairs.
The more expensive fiddle-back chair also figures in a discussion of brown seating. At his death in 1794, John Avery Sr., a Preston, Connecticut, silversmith and clockmaker, possessed “Six brown Fiddle back [Chairs]” still valued at 5s. each. These and the red fiddle-back chairs described above are complemented in records analyzed for this study by two additional color choices for similar seating. At least one set of green chairs, among several sets listed in the late-eighteenth-century accounts of Elisha Hawley of Ridgefield, Connecticut, was constructed in the fiddle-back style. The 7s. unit price is comparable to that of two unidentified sets of green chairs produced in the shop. “Seven blew fiddle back chairs,” possibly with arms, constructed in 1781 by James Wheeler Geer for a customer at Preston were more expensive at 8s. 8d. the chair.
The remaining common-chair production identified by color in craftsmen’s accounts appears to describe chairs with slat backs. Oliver Moore, a craftsman of rural East Granby, Connecticut, constructed “six citching chairs painted green and varnished @ 6s.,” or $1.00 apiece, in 1820 for Erastus Holcomb. The unit price seems high until one takes into account the fact that the surfaces received paint and varnish, two separate tasks, and the chairs may have had arms. Several inventories describe “rush bottom chairs painted blue” with low evaluations, including two estates probated at Baltimore in the 1770s. Among several inventories from Chester County, Pennsylvania, that list blue rush-bottom chairs, two name locations. In the home of Thomas Pim, who died in 1786, the chairs stood in a back room over the parlor. In 1823 appraisers located blue chairs in the south room of the upper storey at the home of Elijah Funk. Other records describe yellow chairs. In 1824 Captain Nathaniel Kinsman bought “4 yallau Chairs” with rush seats from Samuel Beal of Boston for 4s. 6d. apiece. At the death of James Chapman of Ellington, Connecticut, appraisers identified an alternative seating material: “6 yellow split [splint] bottom chairs.” Splints for weaving chair seats (or baskets) were harvested from the inner bark of selected trees, frequently the hickory tree.
An unusual color reference to common seating in early records is “orange,” a word that may identify paint, stain, or pigment in varnish or size. If the coating was paint, a recipe in the accounts of William Fifield of Lyme, New Hampshire, may apply. The basic pigment was stone yellow, a mixture of white lead and yellow ochre proportioned at fourteen parts to five, with a tiny amount of ivory black, followed by the addition of red lead to increase the mixture by half. In 1789 William Jones of Chester County, Pennsylvania, owned “3 Rush bottom Chairs Orange color” in a home filled with rush seating in black and chocolate color, probably all with slat backs. Another record describes “6 Orange Coular chairs” purchased at Philadelphia in 1747 from Solomon Fussell at 6s. 6d. apiece. The pricing was unusual for common chairs made by Fussell, although two other sets of similar price shed further light on the appearance of these orange chairs. One set is identified as “6 Best Dyd [stained] 5 Slat Chairs.” The description of the second set appears to define the word “best”: “6 turned frunts archback Dyd Chairs.” These are the iconic Delaware Valley chairs with bold double-baluster front stretchers and back slats arched along both edges, as further confirmed at the death in 1766 of Daniel Jones, another Philadelphia chairmaker (fig. 6). Whereas appraisers itemized a varied stock of slat-back seating, of relevance here are chairs described as “6 five Slats arch’d & turn’d fronts, Blue.” Other shop stock had “plain Backs & turn’d fronts.” Of further interest is the inventory item “About half a pound of Prusia Blew at 1/3 an Oance.”
COLOR REFERENCES TO PAINTED SURFACES: WINDSOR-CHAIR AND FANCY-CHAIR PRODU TION
In terms of mainstream production and price structuring, Windsor seating and fancy-chair work followed common-chair production as the popular focus in household seating. Of the many Windsor and fancy chairs listed in documents of the late colonial and federal periods, only a fraction is identified by color and/or decoration. Nonetheless, this small body of material is sufficiently sizable to allow a discussion of the various color choices individually, although the line between the two construction forms often is blurred in records. The discussion proceeds from the most to least common consumer options in surface color, as indicated by the material gathered for this study. Green heads the list of solid color grounds; blue was the least favorite choice. An investigation of grained surfaces, principally those in imitation of wood, forms a separate topic at the end of this section, followed by a discussion of ornament, the focus principally on post-1800 production, when chair styles offered broad, flat surfaces for decoration.
Green was a color choice for Windsor-chair surfaces from the time this construction form was introduced until well into the nineteenth century. In 1730, little more than a decade after Windsor seating was made in England, John Brown, a chairmaker of London, offered for sale “ALL SORTS OF WINDSOR GARDEN CHAIRS, of all Sizes, painted green or in the Wood.” As most early Windsor production was destined for garden use, green paint was an obvious choice. This was the color introduced to America through early imports of Windsor furniture, and it was the color adopted by American craftsmen when domestic production began in the 1740s at Philadelphia. John Fanning Watson, a chronicler of early life in that city, stated in the early nineteenth century, “When the first windsor chairs were introduced, they were universally green.”
Because green was the single color choice for Windsor seating through the Revolution, most documents relative to early production are silent on the subject of color. Shipping records are the first sources to identify green surfaces. In 1775 James Bentham of Charleston, South Carolina, announced the arrival of a vessel carrying “Green Windsor chairs” from Philadelphia, the principal center of Windsor chairmaking in America. Several references originating at Newport, Rhode Island, a community whose initial Windsor production followed that of Philadelphia, date earlier. Aaron Lopez, a merchant with international shipping interests, ventured Newport-constructed “round back wooden bottom Green Chairs” (low-back Windsors) in 1767 and 1768 to several markets in his business sphere: Savannah, Georgia; coastal Maryland; the Bay of Honduras; and Surinam. The American ports also received green chairs “with high backs.” In the postwar years Stephen Girard, a rising Philadelphia merchant, launched his shipping enterprise. “Green windsor Chairs,” including dozens of fan backs with scroll-carved crests and bow-back side and armchairs, were marketed in the late 1780s at Charleston, South Carolina, and Cape Français, Haiti.
Knowledge, production, and use of Windsor seating spread rapidly in the post-Revolutionary years. In 1779 Samuel Barrett of Boston requested his brother-in-law at Worcester, Massachusetts, to purchase at auction “6 Green Chairs (if made at Philadelphia).” Philadelphia Windsors were the standard by which similar seating was measured, although Boston craftsmen had yet to develop a local industry. The situation changed quickly, as indicated in April 1786 by Ebenezer Stone, who solicited custom at his shop on Moore’s Wharf, where he sold “WARRANTED Green Windsor Chairs . . . painted equally as well as those made at Philadelphia.” Three years later David Haven of Framingham sold “6 Dining Chairs Partly Painted,” or with a priming coat only. Haven also supplied “1/4 lb of Verdegrees & 2 oz of Wt [white] Lead” to make green paint, enabling his client to finish the chairs himself and reduce the cost. As indicated by Haven, verdigris, a copper acetate, was the pigment that produced the light green or light bluish green paint of early Windsor production (fig. 7). James Claypoole, a painter of Philadelphia, imported verdigris along with a variety of painting materials by 1750. Verdigris was still current for compounding green paint at the end of the century, as indicated in the records of Samuel Wing, a furniture craftsman of Sandwich, Massachusetts, whose papers contain a recipe for green paint signed by Obed Faye, a Windsor chairmaker of Nantucket. This recipe, like others, directed the preparer to begin with linseed oil boiled with a drying agent, such as rosin, litharge, or red lead, which was added to measured amounts of verdigris, finely ground in a drying oil, and white lead to achieve the desired intensity of color. Wing may have used Faye’s recipe to fill an order for chairs received in 1799 from Ebenezer Swift of Barnstable, who requested the craftsman to “give them chairs a good Green coler as you can.”
By 1800 New York had been a center of Windsor chairmaking for at least three decades. As early as 1772 Elizabeth Rutgers’s household contained a green low-back Windsor chair, although whether a New York product or a Philadelphia import is uncertain. Like Philadelphia, New York developed a significant export trade in Windsor seating, which began to flourish in the 1790s. The “8 dozen green WINDSOR CHAIRS” from New York received in 1797 by merchant John Curry at Charleston, South Carolina, were a mere prelude to the explosion of activity that followed in that city. By the late 1790s Windsor furniture had long furnished East Coast homes, and some householders already engaged local craftsmen to repair or refurbish their seating. Stephen Girard of Philadelphia employed William Cox in 1787 for “Mendding and Painting 3 Old Windsor Chairs.” Shortly thereafter, Joseph Stone completed a repair for William Arnold at East Greenwich, Rhode Island, by putting “one post in a green Chair.” Business was brisk at the shop of Daniel Rea Jr., a painting specialist of Boston, who charged 2s. or 3s. for repainting a Windsor chair green.
Green Windsors were prominent in the chair production of two generations of the Tracy family of eastern Connecticut from the late 1780s into the nineteenth century. Records identify a range of chair styles and describe several special customer options. Ebenezer Tracy Sr., the family head, trained three young men of the second generation who followed in his footsteps—a son, a nephew, and a son-in-law. The “Green Arm’d Chair” that Tracy exchanged for goods in 1788 with Andrew Huntington, a merchant of Norwich, is the earlier of two armchair styles listed in family records. A price range of 8s. to 12s. for this sack-back chair describes structural options beyond the basic frame. These included stretchers with embellished tips, three-dimensional knuckle arm terminals, and an extension headpiece above the back bow. More popular when introduced from New York after 1790 was the smaller, continuous-bow armchair, described by Amos D. Allen, Tracy’s son-in-law, as a “fancy” chair. Prices from 8s. to 15s. 6d. again dictated customer options: bracing spindles to strengthen the chair back; a fixed “cushion,” or stuffed seat, to cover the chair bottom; “edging,” or narrow painted lines, to accent and define structural features.
The Tracy family produced two side chairs often finished in green paint, fan-backs and bow-backs. The bow-back Windsor often served as seating around a dining table, its compact design maximizing seating space. Appropriately, Amos D. Allen identified his bow-back Windsors as “dining chairs,” pricing them from 6s. 6d. to 14s., depending on customer selection of special features, as described above. Allen’s comprehensive order book also identifies another option in his side-chair production. Seat tops could be painted to contrast with the green or other principal color. The accounts identify “bottoms” of black and “mahog[an]y colour” contrasted with green. Ebenezer Tracy’s eldest son, Elijah, and his nephew Stephen also produced dining chairs, called simply “green chairs.” Elijah, like his father, did business with John Avery Jr., a clockmaker and metalworker, acquiring in 1799 and 1800 metalwork for turning lathes. Avery received a bed press (bedstead storage case) and two sets of “12 green Chairs,” at a unit price of 6s. 6d. Avery passed along eighteen of the chairs in sets of six to three customers at the same price.
Information from household inventories provides another perspective on the green Windsor chair by identifying its geographic spread, the social level of its owners, and its disposition in the home. Inventories originating from New Hampshire to Georgia and westward to Kentucky describe the broad acceptance of Windsor furniture in early American life. As to who used this type of seating, the social spectrum is broad. Individuals with basic occupations included farmers and storekeepers. Artisan trades are described, in part, by furniture makers, metalworkers, millers, a shoemaker, and a butcher. Doctors and lawyers represented men of the professions. Records provide particular insight into the ownership and use of green Windsor chairs in the closely knit society on Nantucket Island during the three decades from the Revolution to the War of 1812, when forty-three inventories list chairs of this construction and color. Occupations relating to seafaring are prominent. Twelve decedents were “mariners.” Five individuals were merchants, and five more were “traders” engaged in the coasting trade. Several coopers, a ship’s carpenter, and a block maker also owned green Windsor chairs. Several owners were termed “gentlemen” at their deaths.
Many green chairs listed in Nantucket households appear to have been used on the first floor—a few in parlors but many in a room reserved for dining. “Table chair,” an alternative term for “dining chair,” appears in some records. When Oliver Spencer, a “trader” of Nantucket, died in 1794, appraisers listed “6 Green Table Chairs” among his furnishings. Several records describe a distinctive Windsor chair with a tall, reclining braced back that originated on the island or nearby (fig. 8). Henry Clark, a mariner, owned a “Great Green Chair & Cushion [Green]” in 1801, the cushion suggesting that his chair was designed for taking his ease. Two other chairs, one belonging to Jonathan Burnell, a merchant, and one to Peter Coffin, a yeoman, are each described as a “Mans Green Chair,” suggesting the chairs had distinct, identifiable features linking them with the head of a household. Tall chairs of this type appear to have been located on the first floor, placing them near the principal hearth to which they could be drawn for warmth in cold weather. A few Nantucket inventories locate smaller green Windsors in upstairs chambers.
Bedchambers also were the choice of off-islanders for the placement of green Windsor chairs. Elias Hasket Derby, a wealthy merchant of Salem, Massachusetts, furnished his southwest and southeast chambers in this manner. Another group of “6 Green Chairs” was located in his counting room “on the wharf.” Upper and lower hallways, or passages, were depositories for a total of fourteen green Windsors in the New York home of Johannah Beekman before 1821. The “large entry” in the Newburyport, Massachusetts, home of Captain Jonathan Dalton was the site of a “high green [arm] Chair” two decades earlier. Windsors placed in entrance halls served as repositories for outer clothing when individuals entered the house. The chairs also provided supplemental seating for the adjacent dining room and parlor. The garret in many homes, including that of Beekman, served as storage for surplus seating and “old” chairs. Some New England inventories list a “keeping room,” a family sitting room, or parlor, whose function at times was expanded to include dining. In the home of Daniel Danforth, a shopkeeper of Hartford, Connecticut, “6 Green dining chairs” stood in the “Lower Keeping Room” in company with a “Breakfast Table.”
Other inventories describe special options in green Windsor seating. William Chappel, a farmer of Lyme, Connecticut, owned “1/2 Doz Green Chocolate bottom windsor Chairs.” Rufus Porter in “The Art of Painting” described chocolate as a mixture of lampblack with Venetian red. At New Haven Eneas Munson, a physician, who like Chappel died in 1826, owned “10 Green & Black Chairs.” Whether black described the seat color or the ornament is unclear. Seven years later at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, the inventory of chairmaker Thomas Devor itemized “2 Green Strip[e] chairs.” That the chairs were ornamented is clear, but was green the color of the chairs or the decoration? Other inventory data suggest green was the ground color. Stuffed seats were a more expensive option. To the construction and painting costs of the wood-seat chair was added a charge for stuffing materials, a finish cover (leather or cloth), and labor. Stuffing a seat, on average, almost tripled the price of a Windsor. An inventory drawn about 1816 for the estate of Gerrit Wessel Van Schaick, a resident of Albany, New York, describes an unusually large set of stuffed Windsor chairs as “1 3/12 Dozen Green Chairs with Stuffed bottoms.” Insight on suitable cloth covers for Windsor chairs can be found in the estate records of General George Mason of Rockland County, Virginia: “Eighteen Windsor chairs with green Moreen bottoms” and “Two armed ditto covered with ditto.” Moreen, a worsted woolen, was popular for upholstery in the period of this study.
Chairmakers’ inventories from the second quarter of the nineteenth century illuminate new options available in green Windsor seating late in the period under study. Ebenezer P. Rose, a craftsman of Trenton, New Jersey, had a dining room furnished with “10 Sage Col[or] Chares” still valued at $1.00 apiece in 1836 at his death. Sage color is defined as a gray-green, although records are silent on how to compound paint of this hue. Thomas Sheraton offered a clue in his Dictionary, when identifying green pigments suitable for use in oil. One choice besides the ubiquitous verdigris was “terra verte,” a green earth that was refined to produce a soft grayish green pigment.
When Charles Riley of Philadelphia died in 1842, appraisers itemized an estate with a shop in full production. Olive green, an important color, covered fifteen six-chair sets in two styles—“ball backs” and “Baltimore backs.” The ball-back chairs had bent backs with short ball-centered spindles at the lower back. The Baltimore-style chairs had large tablet tops set on turned posts or rabbeted to sawed Grecian posts (fig. 9) (see fig. 29). Rufus Porter provided two recipes in his Scientific American article for duplicating this dull yellowish green color. One is a mixture of blue, red, and yellow, the other a combination of lampblack and chrome yellow. The forty-three pounds of chrome yellow in Riley’s shop suggests his choice of recipe. Also in the shop was “1 Sett Pea Green [Chairs].” Each of two recipes indicates this color was little different from the light green that had been used on Windsor chairs for almost a century. Each recipe calls for white lead with the addition of verdigris or Paris (French) green. Of the two pigments, verdigris is more common in records.
Painted fancy chairs with woven seats of rush or cane were introduced in America before 1800 through English imports and immigrant craftsmen. Two London chairmakers, Samuel Claphamson and William Challen, settled at Philadelphia and New York, respectively. Claphamson advertised “fancy” and “bamboo chairs” in January 1785. When changing addresses in 1797, Challen assured his New York customers he was prepared to supply “every article in the fancy chair line, executed in the neatest manner, and after the newest and most approved London patterns.”
Like other vernacular seating, fancy-chair construction frequently is unidentified in records. Unit price, pattern, and decorative treatment, if indicated, can provide insights. Cane seats were less common than rush seats and also more expensive. The green of the fancy chairs discussed here is without further description except for “3 Pea green cane seat chairs” in the household of Lambert Hitchcock in 1852 at Unionville, Connecticut. As stated, pea green could have been prepared using the pigment verdigris, although, according to Sheraton, green paint made with verdigris might be manipulated to vary the color: “In painting chairs with a green ground, common verdigrise may be used. . . . The green may be compounded to any shade by means of white lead, and king’s yellow, both of which must first be ground in turpentine out of the dry colours.”
In general, fancy chairs were priced higher than Windsors. Thomas Howard, a Providence, Rhode Island, craftsman, noted the price range in 1822, when advertising a new shipment of seating furniture from the New York City area: “4000 Fancy and Windsor Chairs, of a superior quality, new and handsome patterns, from 50 cents to five dollars.” Windsor chairs priced at $2.00 or more and fancy chairs from $3.00 usually represented high-end seating, often distinguished by special structural features, elaborate decoration, and/or extensive gilding. Fancy green chairs made in 1816 at Newark, New Jersey, by David Alling had cross backs (see fig. 19), slat backs, or ball backs, the last-named pattern notable for a horizontal ball-accented fret across the back (see fig. 26). Earlier, in 1810, Nolen and Gridley, warehousemen of Boston, advertised imported New York chairs of green and gold with “double Cross Backs.” Top-of-the-line fancy seating might exhibit extensive hand-painted ornament or complex bronzework (stenciling), either accented with gilding.
Yellow was a new color available for the surfaces of Windsor seating at Philadelphia in the post-Revolutionary period. Its appearance in the market in the 1780s coincided with the introduction of a new side chair having a back bow anchored in the seat, a pattern also described at Philadelphia as an oval-back Windsor, and turned work simulating the jointed character of bamboo. Providing inspiration for the new chair back was formal seating furniture constructed locally after neoclassical oval-back designs current in England. Six new bow-back chairs painted yellow and valued at 9s. ($1.50) each stood in the shop of John Lambert at his death in 1793 during a yellow fever epidemic that raged in Philadelphia. The bow-back Windsor quickly became the popular chair for dining.
The common yellow pigment of the period was patent yellow, a bright chloride of lead (fig. 10). Formula improvements about 1800 using additives such as antimony and bismuth enhanced the color’s “brilliancy and durability.” This likely was the “new discovery in the preparation of Paints” advertised by chairmaker Lawrence Allwine in 1800 at his Philadelphia “Patent Paint Ware House.” By 1804 Harmon Vosburgh retailed “Patent Mineral Yellow” of his “own manufacture . . . warranted equal to any ever imported, and 50 per cent cheaper” at his New York varnish and patent yellow manufactory. Patent yellow remained the standard for a decade or more, until the bright new chrome yellow, a lead chromate, seized the market. By 1818 William Palmer, a fancy chairmaker of New York, “succeeded in making this new and beautiful PAINT a permanent color.”
The fashion for yellow dining chairs was disseminated from Philadelphia. James Chase of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, sold “Six Dining Chars painted yallow” in 1804 to Reuben Morgan of Meredith for 7s. 6d. ($1.25) the chair. Earlier, Amos D. Allen had sold six yellow chairs to Dr. Samuel Lee, a neighbor at Windham, Connecticut. When Lee died in 1815, the dining chairs were still in his home. Yellow dining chairs trimmed in blue were perhaps more popular than plain ones at Solomon Cole’s Glastonbury shop near Hartford, where the chairmaker priced his ornamented seating about 25 percent higher than plain chairs. New York estates of the late 1790s and early 1800s that describe yellow Windsors, some trimmed in green or white, provide information on the broad socioeconomic background of the owners of yellow Windsor seating: two decedents were “gentlemen”; other owners included a merchant, lawyer, silversmith, shipmaster, and blacksmith. At Boston Daniel Rea Jr. used more descriptive language when recording two groups of chairs painted “Patent yellow”: one group was “Creas’d in Green,” highlighting the “bamboo” grooves, while the other was “Strip’d.” Providing additional insight into the range of decorative options is a notice by Ephraim Evans at Alexandria, Virginia, in 1802 following the theft of a set of chairs from his shop: “STOLEN . . . Six round back Chairs, painted yellow, tip’d with black, the seats painted mahogany colour.” At Saybrook, Connecticut, the estate of cabinetmaker Samuel Loomis contained yellow Windsor chairs with painted “black bottoms.” Another option, available at the shop of Amos D. Allen, was stuffed seats, or “green cushions,” probably covered in moreen.
Yellow paint on Windsor chairs was not limited to the bow-back style. Captain John Derby of Salem, Massachusetts, purchased yellow fan-back chairs in 1802 for $1.39 apiece. Solomon Cole’s chair production at Glastonbury, Connecticut, included yellow fan-backs embellished with green ornament. The order book of Amos D. Allen of Windham describes another chair style in 1799: “6 Fancy [continuous-bow] Ch[air]s without braces, Edged [pinstriped] . . . Yellow.” Cargo lists of the early nineteenth century provide insights on yellow chairs in the new square-back patterns and the scope of the export trade in seating furniture. Itemized in a mixed cargo shipped in 1801 to Havana, Cuba, by Philadelphia chairmaker Anthony Steel are “One Dozen yellow Double back Square tops,” a pattern with curved double rods, or “short bows,” forming the crest. When the ship George and Mary left Providence, Rhode Island, in 1810 with a cargo from New York for sale at Buenos Aires, Argentina, the invoice of furniture included “12 [Bent Back] Yellow [Winsor Chairs]” valued at $1.25 apiece. New York patterns also were part of a chair consignment containing yellow Windsors shipped to Nathan Bolles of New Orleans in 1819 by David Alling, proprietor of a chair manufactory at Newark, New Jersey. Itemized are Windsors with slat backs and plain spindles or organ spindles, the last-named feature a distinctive New York pattern (see fig. 26).
Supplementing bright yellow seating in the market were Windsor chairs painted in paler tones of yellow (fig. 11). “Straw” and “cane” were terms in use, although both probably identified the same color, the terminology a matter of individual shop practice or preference. Sheraton, who provided a recipe for straw-colored paint in his Cabinet Dictionary (1803) but none for cane color, intimated the yellows were the same, when describing the canes used in fancy-chair seats as “of a fine light straw colour.” The base for formulating straw color was white lead, the pigment varying, depending on recipe date. Sheraton recommended king’s yellow, a yellow orpiment. In Directions for House and Ship Painting of 1812, Hezekiah Reynolds named spruce yellow, whereas Rufus Porter, writing in 1845, preferred chrome yellow. Chrome yellow is bright, whereas the other recipes produced a light brownish yellow. Reynolds’s spruce yellow is an ochre, or earth, and Sheraton recommended as an additive to his formula “a little Oxford ochre.”
References to straw- and cane-colored paint occur in documents originating in both New England and Philadelphia, although use of one or the other term appears to have been shop specific, based on limited evidence. Straw color in reference to paint was a viable term from the 1790s, whereas the first use of cane color dates after 1800. Both terms were current until almost 1850. The popularity of straw- and cane-colored paint is explained indirectly by Sheraton in defining the word “BAMBOO”: “A kind of Indian reed, which in the east is used for chairs. These are, in some degree, imitated in England, by turning beech into the same form, and making chairs of this fashion, painting them to match the colour of the reeds or cane.” Simulated bamboowork appeared in America in the mid-1780s with the introduction of the bow-back Windsor at Philadelphia. Yellow paint helped to promote the exotic background of the new turned style, although craftsmen soon offered a broad palette of color choices for “bamboo” seating.
An early reference to straw-colored chairs can be found in the shipping records of Stephen Girard of Philadelphia, who in 1791 purchased two dozen Windsors of this color from William Cox at $1.67 each, probably for shipment to Haiti in the Caribbean. Later, between 1818 and 1832, Luke Houghton of rural Barre, Massachusetts, framed five sets, comprising six or twelve straw-colored chairs, each chair priced from 83¢ to $1.50, suggesting there were options in structural pattern and decoration. Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, noted the sale of six straw-colored chairs in 1836, although his customers appear to have favored bright yellow seating.
In the 1810s Stephen Girard, formerly a customer of William Cox (d. 1811) for straw-colored chairs, patronized the shop of Joseph Burden, who on one occasion supplied him with “4 Dozen Cane couloured Chairs” at $17.00 the dozen and four matching settees, each priced at $10.00. The furniture was placed on board the ship Rousseau bound for China via South America, where it was sold. The firm of Verree and Blair of Charleston, South Carolina, identified a less successful waterborne venture in announcing the sale of cane-colored Windsors in 1807 from the ship Thomas Chalkley, which “put into . . . port in distress, on her passage from Philadelphia to St. Thomas.” Chair manufacturer David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, also identified cane-colored chairs as a popular commodity during the 1810s, when Moses Lyon was his painter and ornamenter. Itemized in Lyon’s work are cane-colored Windsors of three spindle types: “plain” (cylindrical), “organ,” and “flat.” Organ spindles, located in the lower backs of chairs, are cylindrical with thick rounded tops and slim lower tips like organ pipes (see fig. 26). The common flat spindle is of so-called arrow shape. Lyon also “tipped,” or pinstriped, several sets of cane-colored Windsors.
Cream color, a pale yellow tint that equaled the popularity of straw- and cane-colored paint, was selected occasionally for Windsor seating in the early nineteenth century (fig. 12). The closeness of cream color to the yellow palette is demonstrated in the accounts of Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, who in 1834 sold Thomas C. Perkins “3 yellow Chairs plain colour to border on a cream colour.” In his recipe for cream-colored paint, Hezekiah Reynolds combined spruce yellow (an ochre) with white lead in the proportion of one part to thirty to achieve a “yellow tinge.” Reynolds used the same ingredients in straw-colored paint, altering the proportions to one part to ten. Elijah Eldredge recommended the addition of stone yellow, an ochre, to white lead in compounding cream-colored paint, resulting in a tint similar to that achieved by Reynolds.
Six “Cream Color’d Chairs” stood in the Danbury, Connecticut, home of furniture maker Ebenezer Booth White in 1817. Sales of similarly painted Windsors at the Connecticut shops of Thomas Safford and Silas E. Cheney further describe a modest interest in this light color. Titus Preston of Wallingford provided more detail in 1801, when Polly Scovel acquired two six-chair sets of cream-colored Windsors. Both groups had striped decoration, and one set had painted “green bottoms” that likely reflected the color of the striped ornament. Preston’s price of $1.17 a chair was the same as that recorded by Safford and Cheney. Within two years, David Russell recorded the sale of cream-colored chairs with mahogany-colored seats at Winchester, Virginia. Later, in 1842, Charles Riley’s probate record describes an extensive shop inventory at Philadelphia that lists “1 Sett Cream Col’d Ball Back [Chairs].” The pattern probably identifies Windsors with tablet tops (crests) in the Baltimore style and short ball-centered spindles in the lower back below a cross rail.
Supplementing Windsor seating, many chairmakers framed fancy chairs to satisfy a market that preferred higher-end painted and decorated furniture. Records collected for this study include references to yellow, cane-colored, and cream-colored fancy seating, colors available at one time or another at David Alling’s New Jersey chair manufactory. During the late 1810s, when Alling made yellow and cane-colored seating, he also produced fancy chairs and a few Windsors in a painted finish he called “Nankeen.” The term possibly can be equated with Alling’s later use of “cream color” in the 1830s. Nankeen was a popular cotton cloth of pale, light brownish yellow produced originally at Nanking, China, and exported through the port of Canton, where after the Revolution American merchants purchased the textile directly. Although Alling is the only person in this study to identify Nankeen-colored paint, the term also may have had currency at New York, where Alling had frequent contact by water with suppliers and craftsmen. Nankeen-colored seating available at Alling’s shop included slat-back and ball-back fancy chairs; the Windsors had organ spindles.
When Elizur Barnes of Middletown, Connecticut, charged Arthur W. Magill 67¢ in 1822 for “Painting 8 Seats yellow,” he identified rush-bottom fancy chairs. Sheraton advocated painting rush seats because, as he explained, it “preserves the rushes and hardens them.” Sheraton commented, alternatively, on the use of canework in furniture, noting that it introduced “lightness, elasticity, cleanness, and durability.” The light straw color of cane further interested him because it provided “the most agreeable contrast to almost every colour it is joined with.”
Fancy chairs painted yellow, among other colors, were available in the mid-1830s at the Hartford, Connecticut, manufactory of Philemon Robbins and partners, whose accounts describe an active business association with suppliers of seating furniture, among them Lambert Hitchcock. Hitchcock shipped hundreds of chairs to Robbins from his factory in Hitchcocksville (Riverton), and other stock was available in the mid-1830s at Hitchcock’s chair store in Hartford. In September 1835 a Mr. Churchill purchased “2 cane seat yellow Hitchcock ch[airs]” from Robbins for $3.00. A previous order for another customer had required that Robbins “send to M[essrs] Hitchcock for 18 cream color Roll top cane seat chair[s] . . . with out gilt but d[ou]ble . . . bl[ack] stripe.”
Like Windsor furniture, fancy seating was a commodity of waterborne commerce, albeit a more modest one. Yellow-painted chairs are named in several records dating to the 1810s. On June 1, 1814, the New York shop of Alexander Patterson prepared “12 Yellow & gilt chairs” priced at $5.25 the chair for shipment up the Hudson River on the sloop Columbia to Gerrit Wessel Van Schaick, a resident of Albany. Packing the chairs for shipment cost an additional $1.50, although no further detail is provided. With woven seats already in place (as per chair cost), the chairs probably were nested in bundles of two, the seats in contact, vulnerable surfaces wrapped with sheeting or haybands, and the exterior wrapped with straw matting tied in place.
David Alling, a manufacturer of Newark, New Jersey, from about 1800 until 1855, derived considerable income from his export business in seating furniture. In 1819 and 1820 he sent four large consignments of fancy chairs of mixed pattern, color, and ornament to his agent in New Orleans. Among the shipments were three sets of handsome yellow fancy chairs, each one-dozen set priced at $50.00. Gilt decoration enriched all three sets, and one set also had “bronsed” ornament. Alling’s records also describe the structural features of the chairs: one set had “dimond front rounds,” or front stretchers centered by a small, diamond-shaped tablet (fig. 13); another set had slat-style front stretchers (see fig. 23) and legs flaring outward at the base; the third set had distinctive New York ball backs, with narrow cross rods anchoring two rows of small beads (see fig. 31). Stephen Girard’s maritime pursuits carried his vessels well beyond North America, and his Philadelphia suppliers provided a variety of seating furniture to meet the tastes of his markets. In July 1816 the ship North America left the city carrying 128 fancy chairs, including twenty-two side chairs and six armchairs described as “[Fancy chairs] bent [back] Cane colour.” A principal destination was Port Louis on the Isle de France (Mauritius), east of Madagascar, where the entire cargo of chairs was landed. The vessel then proceeded to India and the East Indies.
White, along with black, green, red, and blue, was a paint color identified as suitable for Windsor chairs in an invoice book kept by Joseph Walker, supercargo on the sloop Friendship in 1784 on a voyage to Savannah, Georgia. Aside from green, all the colors were newly fashionable. The principal ingredient in white paint was white lead, a lead carbonate, known in its pristine and brightest form as flake white. Spanish white, or whiting, an alternative pigment made from clay, was sold as a finely powdered chalk. Painters sometimes used Spanish white as an adulterant in lead paint, if, indeed, they did not employ a more common chalk.
Other references to white paint followed. In the mid-1780s Benjamin Franklin furnished his home in Philadelphia with two dozen white Windsor chairs. The purchase likely occurred in 1785, on his return from national service in France, or in 1786, when he enlarged his residence on Market Street. The chairs were inventoried at his death in 1790. Other records from the 1790s describe increasing local interest in white Windsor seating. General Henry Knox, secretary of war in the new federal government located at Philadelphia during the 1790s, patronized William Cox in 1794 for twelve white bow-back, or oval-back, side chairs at $1.87 apiece and “12 Oval back’d white color’d Arm chairs with Mahogany Arms,” the $3.12 unit price a reflection of the use of mahogany in the construction. Knox’s purchase of similar seating from Cox the following year for triple the number of side chairs and armchairs was made at price increases of 11 1/4 and 6 3/4 percent, respectively. Six settees accompanied the seating; two were priced at $7.50 apiece, the remaining four at $15.00 apiece. The dual pricing suggests the long seats accommodated two and four people, respectively.
By 1796 the price of Windsor chairs at Philadelphia had increased again by 16 3/4 percent for side chairs and 11 3/4 percent for armchairs. William Meredith, a lawyer and banker of the city, purchased white oval-back Windsors from John Letchworth that year at $2.50 and $3.75 apiece, probably to furnish a dining parlor. Something beyond plain white seating is suggested in the prices of all these groups of Philadelphia chairs. Although the dates are too early for gilt ornament, the “creases” of the bamboowork and the grooves of the seats and bows probably were “picked out” in a contrasting dark color using a slim brush called a pencil.
Records indicate that Windsor prices began to normalize by 1800, the year the federal government moved to the new federal city at Washington. William Dutilh and Samuel Coates Jr., Philadelphia merchants, purchased white oval-back Windsors that year for their export ventures. John B. Ackley supplied Coates’s chairs. The previous year Taylor and King sold Stephen Girard “Wite Dining Chairs” described as “New fashion’d,” a term that marks the early stage of a shift from round- to square-back seating, the common Windsor profile until about 1850. The cross rod at the tops of Girard’s chairs was either of serpentine or simulated bamboo form.
Some hint of ornament on white and other chairs occurs in several records. When working for Amos Bradley at East Haven, Connecticut, in 1808, Charles Stow received credit for “penciling 6 white Chairs.” Two years later Tapping Reeve, proprietor of a law school at Litchfield, patronized Silas E. Cheney for six white “Doining” chairs with “striped” (penciled) decoration. “6 white gilt Table Chairs,” their high valuation in 1810 suggesting they were almost new, stood in the home of Lydia Pinkham, widow of Captain Bethuel Pinkham of Nantucket. Several other individuals owned white fan-back Windsors, a pattern still current in New England in 1804, when James Chase sold white fan-backs to a customer at Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Two craftsmen identified the color of the decoration on white fan-back chairs sold at their shops: John Doggett of Roxbury, Massachusetts, named green; Stephen Tracy in Connecticut ornamented white chairs in yellow. Aside from use in the dining parlor, white Windsor chairs served as furnishings for bedchambers.
Prices for white fancy chairs in the early nineteenth century varied widely—from $1.75 to $8.00 the chair, indicating customers could choose from a broad range of structural and ornamental options (fig. 13). Supplementary information is sparse, with few patterns identified. David Alling produced single cross-back chairs at Newark, New Jersey (see figs. 19, 34), and Nolen and Gridley of Boston imported double cross-back chairs from New York. Alling also framed slat-back fancy chairs, a crest type identified with various mid-back features—spindles, graduated cross slats, three-stick cross rods, pierced frets, and ball frets formed of cross sticks and beads (see fig. 26).
Decoration was the second component that determined the pricing of the fancy chair, although descriptions are rare. Basic striping and a simple ornament in the crest probably sufficed in the lowest-priced seating. William Palmer, a fancy chairmaker of New York, supplied a client in 1803 with white chairs ornamented in yellow. Perhaps he also retailed the “14 White & Green fancy chairs” itemized in the 1819 estate of Whitehead Fish, cashier of the local Merchants’ Bank. Of particular note in records is gilded decoration, some described as “Elegant.” Chairs purchased from Palmer for $8.00 apiece in 1804 by Nicholas Low, a New York merchant and landholder, probably fit this description, although the account merely describes “6 Drawing room chairs white & Gold.” Undoubtedly, these high-priced chairs were of handsome pattern and ornament. As noted by Sheraton, drawing-room chairs “should always be the produce of studied elegance.”
Sheraton also commented on the process of gilding, described as “the art of spreading or covering thin gold over any substance.” Some of his remarks center on “Gilding chairs.” Because of the small areas of chair gilding compared with other types of surface gilding and the rapid drying quality of japanners’ gold size, the ornamenter had to work quickly and with expertise. Any irregularities in the edges of gilded ornament could be “trimmed up by japanning the uneven edges with a colour suitable to the ground,” using a slim brush. In preparing the colorless size to produce the tacky surface that secures the gold leaf, the gilder colored the material to distinguish the sized areas from the ground color. Red lead, vermilion, and ochre were recommended for a light ground and white lead for a dark ground. To protect the gold work when completed, Sheraton advised a coating of copal varnish diluted with turpentine “that it may dry quick, and be more transparent over the gold.” Surfaces of expensive seating were safeguarded for delivery, as noted by Samuel Gridley of Boston, who in 1810 shipped to Joshua Ward of Salem “12 white fancy Chairs” priced at $4.50 apiece, each wrapped in matting at an additional cost of 25¢ the chair.
“Bronzing,” a painted or stenciled technique, which began to influence the vernacular chair market during the 1810s, was another method of decorating surfaces on fancy and related seating. Bronzing, gilding, and freehand ornamental painting were skills practiced by Moses Lyon in this period, when employed by David Alling at Newark, New Jersey. An item of particular note is the stock of “white and gold double cross [back]” chairs with “Bronzed Tops” imported from New York in 1810 by Nolen and Gridley of Boston. Other stock offered by the firm included white-and-gold fancy chairs with “green tops” ornamented with “double shells,” a motif reflecting a popular collecting pastime (see fig. 15). Most fancy-chair purchases could be supplemented with “Settees to match,” as advertised by William Challen in 1809 after migrating from New York to Lexington, Kentucky. Consumers also could choose to protect the rush seats of their fancy chairs with a coat of paint. Charles Dyer, a customer of Elizur Barnes at Middletown, Connecticut, paid the craftsman 25¢ for “white Paint for Cheir Seets” in 1824, which he appears to have applied himself.
Although Joseph Walker of Philadelphia named black in an invoice book of 1784 as one of several colors suitable for painting Windsor furniture, currency of the color is better associated with the start of the nineteenth century. Amos D. Allen of Windham, Connecticut, supplied several customers in 1801 and 1802 with black “Dineing” chairs, probably in the bow-back style. One set had “edged,” or penciled, ornament, and one customer, Patty Parrish, paid for her four chairs “in cloth,” likely woven herself. Another probable customer was Allen’s neighbor Captain Stephen Payne of Lebanon, whose probate records list black dining chairs. Payne purchased furniture from Allen, including dining chairs of unspecified color. His property along the Lebanon-Windsor town line adjoined that of Allen’s, and Allen was both an appraiser and a creditor of Payne’s estate in 1815.
Titus Preston’s work for customers at Wallingford likely included more than one style of black dining chair. Bow-backs seem indicated in Polly Scovel’s purchase in 1801 of twelve chairs with “striped” decoration priced at $1.25 apiece. Several years later Cornelius Cook took seven chairs to the shop to be painted black and striped, the cost at 29¢ apiece suggesting that painting and ornamenting Scovel’s new chairs represented about 23 percent of the cost. When Amos Bristol acquired “black dining chairs” from Preston in 1814, styles had shifted from round to square backs. New square-back Windsors with penciled grooves, described as “42 Black and Yellow Bamboo Chairs,” stood in the Boston shop of Ebenezer Knowlton in 1811, the year Stephen Girard’s ship Montesque left Philadelphia for a voyage to China via South America, where the vessel deposited a cargo of “6 Dozen black Chairs” priced at $1.42 each and six matching settees at $10 each.
Black Windsor seating continued as a choice through the 1850s. Lewis Bancel, proprietor of a day and boarding school in lower Manhattan, furnished the premises in the 1820s with more than 350 vernacular seats, including black “wooden chairs.” Windsor seating still was integral to home furnishing several decades later on the western frontier. Basic appointments in the parlor of an Ohio home in the country are perhaps typical. The walls were whitewashed and the floor covered with homemade striped carpet. Black Windsors stood in a straight line against one wall.
Complementing bow- and square-back Windsor seating painted black were chairs of fan-back pattern. Early-nineteenth-century records suggest a pricing structure. Stephen Tracy, who occupied the shop of his late uncle and master, Ebenezer Tracy Sr., near Norwich, Connecticut, in 1803, sold “6 Fanback Chairs black and yallow” in 1805 and 1806 for $1.17 apiece. At East Haven, Amos Bradley charged $1.33 for black fan backs, which in 1802 may have had simulated bamboo turnings with creases accented in light-colored penciling. More extensive decoration is implied in the unit charge of $1.42 for “6 fanback Chairs black, ornamented” sold in 1807 by Solomon Cole of Glastonbury. The decoration may have included short, vertical grasslike sprigs adjoining penciled creases (see fig. 26). When Samuel Barrett, a Concord, Massachusetts, gristmill and sawmill owner, died in 1825, his black fan-back Windsors were of an age to be worth only 33¢ apiece.
Lampblack was the principal ingredient in black paint. A carbonaceous substance, or soot, it was formed by burning tar, pitch, or resin. Sheraton described the pigment as having “a greasy or oily quality,” and therefore it was “a bad drier.” After grinding lampblack very fine in turpentine, painters mixed it with linseed oil boiled with the drying agents litharge and red lead. Rufus Porter, writing in his serial publication, Scientific American, stated that “the best black is composed of lampblack and Prussian blue.” For oil painting Sheraton recommended using black over a light red ground, although the prevalence of that ground in American work is yet to be assessed (see fig. 4).
Gray of a medium to medium-light shade could serve as an alternative to black (fig. 14). Again the pigment was lampblack. In mixing gray paint, the proportion of lampblack to white lead determined the exact shade. Other grays could be produced by admixing Prussian blue and verdigris, or stone yellow (an ochre) and verdigris, with white lead. Most references to gray-painted seating date to the second quarter of the nineteenth century. An exception is the set of “4 lead coloured wooden chairs” that stood in the bedroom over the “yellow Hall” in 1806 in the household of Samuel Broome, owner of a marble quarry at Whitemarsh, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Twelve more “Lead”-colored chairs, probably new, stood in John Oldham’s chair shop at Baltimore in 1835 at his estate appraisal. Gray chairs sold the previous year to various customers by Philemon Robbins at Hartford, Connecticut, were described as “quaker color wood seat chairs.” Two sets had a rocking chair en suite. “Slate” was the term for gray chairs in the 1840s at the Philadelphia chair shop of Charles Riley.
Catharine Gansevoort (widow of Peter Jr.) of Albany, New York, deposited a dozen fancy chairs in the shop of James Chestney in 1815 for repair and refurbishing. One chair was mended, three bottomed, and all refreshed by “Painting bl[ac]k & penciling with yellow.” Fancy chairs thus finished were popular in the early 1800s, although it is unlikely that Mrs. Gansevoort knew of Sheraton’s comment on the subject: “Black chairs look well when ornamented with yellow lines.” Sheraton described the composition of yellow paint for lines as a mixture of “King’s yellow [yellow orpiment] and white flake [lead], with a trifle of orange lead, ground finely up in spirits of turpentine very thick.” The lines were applied with a pencil “of camels hair, very long,” the length ranging from half an inch to an inch, “according to the thickness of the line to be drawn.”
Equally popular among prosperous householders were black fancy chairs ornamented in gold (fig. 15) (see also fig. 34). William Palmer of New York sold “highly finished black and gold . . . Fancy Chairs, with cane and rush bottoms” along with his fancy white seating. Black chairs bought in 1799 by Stephen Arnold of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, for $3.25 apiece had gold ornament on a japanned ground simulating lacquer. In japanning Sheraton recommended starting with a ground of white lead. Lampblack applied over this base was “ground up in turpentine, very fine, . . . then laid on in white hard varnish, very thin, and repeated.” On completion, Arnold’s chairs were packed for shipping at a charge of 12 1/2¢ apiece. In 1814 Palmer did business with Andrew Bell of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, whose black-and-gold chairs cost $3.50 each.
Public interest in black-and-gold fancy seating was broad. In 1807 Samuel Gridley offered “Black and Gilt” fancy chairs at Boston, although the seating probably was imported from New York. Four years later Thomas Boynton, a young Boston chairmaker, framed “6 broad top black gilt [chairs]” for a local customer, the crest either a deep slat or a wide tablet framed on the post tops. Meanwhile, Stephen Girard of Philadelphia bought a set of black-and-gold side chairs and armchairs from John Mitchell, probably for his export trade. Girard had considerable business in South America, whereas other merchants favored the coastal South. Notices at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1807 and 1808 offered black-and-gold chairs and settees with cane or rush seats from Philadelphia and New York. By 1816 the firm of Stibbs and Stout at Cincinnati, Ohio, made fancy flag bottom and Windsor chairs in colors including “Black . . . handsomely gilt and ornamented.”
Several accounts illuminate the structural features of fancy seating finished in black and gilt. James J. Skerrett of Philadelphia patronized the shop of Haydon and Stewart in 1818, purchasing “Six Urn spindle Black & Gold Chairs” for the large sum of $4.50 apiece. The urn-spindle design may describe a Baltimore style with rich surface decoration. Later, in 1833, David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, made fancy-chair shipments to two firms in Columbus, Georgia. Smith and Morgan received twenty-four fancy chairs in two lots described as “cane seat, black gilt panel, scroll top chairs” priced at $2.50 and $2.25 the chair. One group had “grecian front posts,” the other, “round front posts.” What was the appearance of these chairs? The panel likely was a slat-type crest; the “scrolls” formed the rear tips of the back posts. The “front posts” were legs. “Grecian front posts” were sawed to “sabre,” or hollow, form; “round” posts were turned to a fancy cylindrical style. Alling’s shipment to T. and M. Evans contained a dozen “black paw’d gilt grecian f[oo]t” fancy chairs priced at $2.50 each. The back pattern is unknown; the legs were of saber form ending abruptly at the base in short “paw’d” animal feet. Alling’s delivery of chairs to Columbus is of interest, since the community lies inland about two hundred miles from the coast. The site was the head of navigation by steam vessel on the Chattahoochee River, which flows south along the eastern boundary of Alabama to Lake Seminole to join the Flint River. The confluence of the rivers forms the Apalachicola River, which continues a southerly course to the Gulf of Mexico.
Brown represents a greater diversity of hue, shade, and nomenclature than other surface colors used for seating furniture. Most terms are time-specific. For example, “mahogany” color and “chocolate” are descriptive words associated almost exclusively with late-eighteenth-century work. Nineteenth-century terms represent a broader range of hue: “brown,” “tea color,” “drab,” “stone color,” “dark color,” “light color,” “rust,” and “cinnamon.”
Mahogany was the popular brown of Windsor seating from the late 1780s until after 1800 (fig. 16). Chairs of this color were acquired new or by repainting older seating. An early import notice for mahogany-colored chairs appeared in 1789 at Charleston, South Carolina, where John Minnick sold Windsors of this color. Most references to mahogany-colored Windsors center on Philadelphia or describe its influence. A local request for mahogany-colored chairs originated with Solomon Maxwell at Christiana, Delaware, a small community south of Philadelphia on the wagon road between the Delaware River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. Maxwell wrote in 1794 to Lawrence Allwine, chairmaker of Philadelphia: “Mr Alwine, I wish you to send me half a dozen good round back windsor Chairs painted mehogany colour.” When completed, Allwine shipped the bow-back Windsors to Maxwell through the merchant house of Levi Hollingsworth and Son.
Other merchants were prominent in the Windsor trade out of Philadelphia. Stephen Girard’s purchase of “6 Mahogney Dining Chairs” from Taylor and King in 1799 was part of a larger order. An extensive cargo of twenty-five dozen Windsor chairs shipped the next year by William Dutilh contained four dozen mahogany-colored bow-back chairs comparable to Girard’s “dining chairs.” At times Philadelphia chairmakers acted as their own middlemen in the export trade, as recorded in 1801, when Anthony Steel shipped two dozen mahogany-colored Windsors in a cargo totaling sixteen dozen side chairs, three dozen armchairs, and five settees. Steel placed the lot on the ship Hope bound for Havana, where the captain delivered the furniture to John Dutilh. A sophisticated group of mahogany-colored Windsors was purchased in 1800 by merchant Samuel Coates Jr. from John B. Ackley, likely for a customer along Chesapeake Bay. Priced at $3.50 apiece were “6 Oval back Chairs Painted Mohagny Colour, stuff seats, hair Cloth Cover, one row brass Nails.” Accompanying these bow-back side chairs were two stuffed-seat armchairs priced at $4.50 apiece.
Other evidence of mahogany-colored Windsors originated in Virginia, where in 1803 David Russell of Winchester sold six chairs of this description. In 1815 eighteen mahogany-colored Windsors furnished the home of Sarah B. Mason, widow of George Mason of Gunston Hall near Mount Vernon. Craftsmen and families in New England were acquainted with mahogany-colored seating owing to the coastal trade in Philadelphia Windsors. At Boston, ornamental painters Daniel Rea Jr. and George Davidson repainted chairs in mahogany color for clients in 1795 and 1796, respectively. Rea further provided ornament, likely pinstriping, and completed his work with a coat of varnish. After repairing a set of chairs at Windham, Connecticut, in 1800, Amos D. Allen repainted the surfaces, reserving “Mahogy colour” for the seats. Elsewhere, mahogany-colored Windsors were popular on Nantucket Island, where nine inventories dating between 1803 and 1810 list sixty-three chairs of that color used principally for dining or use in bedchambers. Most owners had been mariners, traders, or merchants and may have participated in the island’s extensive trade with Philadelphia. Philadelphia Windsors with local histories remain on the island today.
What prompted the popularity of mahogany color for Windsor seating? When it was introduced, householders realized that inexpensive seating painted mahogany color made excellent companion or supplemental seating to formal furniture of mahogany and other woods. How mahogany-colored paint was formulated is less clear. Although recipes abound for mahogany stain, sources are silent on ingredients used in mahogany-colored paint. An answer appears to emerge from recipes for graining wood in imitation of mahogany. The pigment in mahogany-colored paint likely was an ochre, or earth, with terra di sienna and stone yellow prominent candidates. Yellow in their natural states, both earths often were “burnt,” or roasted, to create a “rich reddish brown,” the same hue noted by the Oxford English Dictionary in describing the color of mahogany wood.
Recipes for chocolate-colored paint, an alternative hue for Windsor chairs although less popular than mahogany, advised mixing lampblack with Spanish brown, a reddish brown earth containing iron oxides, or Venetian red, an artificially prepared ferric oxide of a brown, red-yellow hue. Both produced a deep dark brown of low brilliance. Several authors recommended mixing red lead and litharge in the compound to give the paint a “drying quality.”
In 1798 Hopkins and Charles, a Charleston, South Carolina, firm, noted the arrival from Philadelphia of “An excellent Assortment of Yellow, Green, Mahogany, and Chocolate Colored CHAIRS and SETTEES.” The notice describes the currency of chocolate color at that date and confirms that chocolate and mahogany were distinguishable colors. Further evidence of chocolate brown paint on Windsor chairs comes from probate records. The high value of a dozen Windsors of that color in the home of merchant Isaac A. Kip of New York in 1805 indicates they were relatively new. The date suggests either the bow-back pattern or an early square-back design. Chocolate-colored Windsors, likely with square backs, were identified in 1819 in the Concord, Massachusetts, home of Francis Barrett, a painter who may have applied the color himself.
References to the color “brown” without particular description of the hue were current for vernacular seating principally in the 1810s and later. Few records date earlier, although in 1795 General Henry Knox, member of the new federal government at Philadelphia, purchased “24 fann’d back’d Brown Color’d Chairs” from chairmaker William Cox as well as a large order of Windsor seating painted white. Although brown paint for vernacular seating gained favor in the early nineteenth century, information in contemporary records regarding its composition is rare. Only Sheraton provided insight in a short discourse on “brown” in various media from watercolor to “common oil painting” on wood. In the latter, he named the ingredients as lampblack, Spanish brown, and Venetian red, with the addition of a small amount of red lead “for . . . binding the Spanish brown more effectually.” The Oxford English Dictionary reinforces Sheraton’s insights by defining “brown” as “a composite colour produced by a mixture of red, yellow, and black.” The resulting color actually was the “chocolate” brown current in the late eighteenth century.
Several nineteenth-century records that identify brown chairs describe structural features. Thomas Boynton made brown bent-back chairs in 1811 at Boston and continued to produce chairs of this profile after his relocation to Vermont. During the same decade David Alling produced brown chairs at Newark, New Jersey, in at least three spindle patterns: plain, organ, and flat. After painting, many chairs were “ornamented.” At this date Windsors sold for more than $1.00 the chair. Luke Houghton of Barre, Massachusetts, retailed sets of brown Windsors in 1817 and 1818, at unit prices of $1.16 1/2 and $1.25. Jacob Roll and Isaac Deeds of Cincinnati, Ohio, filled an order for brown Windsors at $1.50 apiece in 1818 for B. V. Hunt. By the 1830s the market had changed. Cheaper production methods emphasizing quantity over quality drove the unit price below $1.00. Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, sold brown Windsor chairs for 67¢ and 75¢ apiece. At John Oldham’s death in 1835, appraisers of his Baltimore, Maryland, shop valued each chair in a set of brown Windsors at 58¢.
The terms “stone,” “drab,” “light color,” and “dark color” used by painters and chairmakers to describe painted surfaces identify subtle variations of the same color—a brownish yellow ranging from light to medium dark. The critical terms in this interpretation include “drab stone Colour”; “drab, or light stone colour”; “stone brown”; and general references to light and dark stone color. Seven artisan recipes provide specific insights. The medium in all but one recipe is white lead. The principal pigment in all recipes is yellow ochre, described by the Oxford English Dictionary as an “earthy pigment . . . varying in colour from yellow to deep orange-red or brown, . . . esp. a light brownish yellow.” The addition of Prussian blue, lampblack, or ivory black mentioned in four recipes dulled and appreciably darkened the color. The pigments umber, burnt umber, or Venetian red present in four recipes introduced a reddish or reddish brown character to the color. As summed up in Smith’s Art of House Painting (1821), the painter mixed his ingredients “by degree to the colour required.” Thus, stone color was variable in hue and brilliance (fig. 17) (see also fig. 35).
Although paint recipes (also known as receipts) make specific reference to stone color, whether of light or dark hue, chairmakers preferred to use the basic terms “light color” and “dark color.” “Drab” was an alternative term in moderate use among craftsmen to identify light stone color. An early, and therefore unusual, reference to stone-colored seating occurs in the 1793 inventory of the estate of John Lambert, a Philadelphia chairmaker whose premises contained “8 . . . Fan backs Stone Colour” priced individually at 6s. 3d., which in the new decimal-based currency of the 1790s was equivalent to about $1.04 the chair. Half a century later, Joseph Jones, a chairmaker of neighboring Chester County, demonstrated the close link of the words “stone” and “drab” when itemizing a bill to a local customer: “6 S[traight B[ack] drab stone Colour [Chairs].”
Two chairmakers with substantial businesses, David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, and Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, found good markets in drab, or light stone–colored, Windsor chairs. In 1815 and 1816 Moses Lyon’s work for Alling included “ornamenting” and/or “tipping” drab-colored chairs. Alling further described drab Windsors of three spindle types: plain (cylindrical), organ (simulated organ pipes), and flat (arrow, urn, or other flat profile). The unit cost of ornamenting these chairs was 12 1/2¢ for plain-spindle Windsors and 19¢ for the other patterns. Alling’s retail prices for Windsor chairs during the 1810s ranged from a low of $1.75 the chair to a high of about $2.90. By the 1830s his prices had moderated considerably. The highest prices now were the previous lowest figures. Philemon Robbins’s accounts for the 1830s describe the rising impact of warehouse merchandising and the demand for cheap goods by a burgeoning population. Robbins sold his lowest-priced Windsors, some painted “drab” color, for 50¢ to 75¢. Whereas “common” was a word applied to inexpensive rush-bottom slat-back seating in the eighteenth century, the term now identified cheap Windsor seating. Even recycled chairs found a market, as when Robbins recorded the sale of “8 drab wood seat chairs second hand” priced at 58¢ apiece.
The terms “light color” and “dark color” describing light stone (drab) and dark stone paint probably had their genesis in the 1820s. When Peter Peirce, a Templeton, Massachusetts, craftsman, died in 1829, appraisers itemized the contents of a shop in full production. Among the completed furniture were “12 lite col[ore]d comon [chairs]” valued at 42¢ apiece and “38 Dark col’d [common chairs]” estimated at 40¢ each wholesale. Contemporary production at Luke Houghton’s shop ten miles distant at Barre also included light- and dark-colored Windsors, the retail prices varying from below to just above $1.00 a chair. Priced at $1.12 1/2 apiece were “1 doz of best light Chair[s] dubl [double] Back,” that is, chairs with two cross slats in the back. Two other records shed further light on patterns available in light or dark stone color. Dark “wood-seat” chairs sold in the mid-1830s by Philemon Robbins at Hartford, Connecticut, had “five rods,” or spindles. An 1842 appraisal of Charles Riley’s premises at Philadelphia itemized six completed “Setts Light Ball Back” chairs, that is, a pattern with a tablet top, a mid-back cross slat, and short spindles at the lower back with a ball turning at the center. Nelson Talcott, who worked in Portage County, Ohio, in the 1840s described sets of light-colored chairs by their function, that of dining, rather than by pattern.
Chairs of tea color were prominent in the 1830s at Philemon Robbins’s shop at Hartford. Otherwise, mention of this color is uncommon. Because Robbins also made Windsors painted drab color (light stone), dark color (dark stone), and brown (dark reddish brown), the obvious question is how tea color differed. Confirming that tea color identified paint rather than colored varnish is the account entry “to pntng [painting] R[ocking] Chair first dark then Tea.” The item also suggests that tea color was of medium hue, perhaps between a light and a dark stone color. Tea color was more prominent in the shop’s fancy-chair stock than in its Windsor line, and pricing indicates the former was more highly ornamented. Square-back Windsors with “five rods,” or spindles, were part of the pattern selection. Since Robbins was a cabinetmaker, it is of note that several patrons chose tea color for forms other than chairs: a double dressing table, a bureau and dressing glass, a washstand.
Rust- and cinnamon-colored chairs identified in two Delaware Valley documents dating to the 1830s and 1840s may have been close in hue. Appraisers, who in 1836 inventoried the estate of Ebenezer P. Rose, a chairmaker of Trenton, New Jersey, found “2 Rust [Chares]” in his home. A few years later “1 Sett Cinomen Col’d [Chairs]” made up part of the shop stock in Charles Riley’s facility at Philadelphia. Neither color is identified in early-nineteenth-century paint recipes, although the “fawn”-colored paint listed by A. Otis in his “Collection of Receipts” of 1836 appears to describe the reddish brown color. Otis directed the painter to grind “burnt,” or roasted, terra di sienna in linseed oil. The sienna was then mixed with white lead to the depth of color desired.
Fancy seating furniture was available in brown hues similar to those current in Windsor seating, although at higher prices (see fig. 34). When David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, employed Moses Lyon as a decorator in the 1810s, his fancy seating was relatively sophisticated. Whereas Alling’s prices for Windsors ranged from $1.75 to $2.90 the chair, the cost of fancy seating was higher by about 58 percent or more. The prices reflect Alling’s location near the commercial center at New York and his broad clientele base in the South, where local craftsmen offered little competition. Few Northern chairmakers enjoyed these commercial advantages.
References to mahogany- and chocolate-colored fancy chairs are rare because those terms had largely passed from use by the 1810s, when fancy seating became a viable market product. Mahogany color was no longer in vogue, and chocolate was the new “brown.” When the merchant houses of Brown and Ives at Providence, Rhode Island, and Stephen Girard at Philadelphia undertook voyages to South America in 1810, brown fancy seating was part of their furniture cargoes. The Providence firm acquired its venture furniture at New York, including a dozen “Brown and Gold chairs,” before the George and Mary sailed for Buenos Aires, Argentina, in April. Girard’s ship Montesque left Philadelphia in December bound ultimately for China. A year later, the vessel’s captain recorded furniture sales at Valparaiso, Chile, that included a dozen “Brown Gilt [side] chairs” and an eight-piece set of side chairs and armchairs of similar surface valued at $32.00, which sold at Valparaiso for $50.00. Furniture speculations were not always as profitable, however.
Early-nineteenth-century accounts occasionally reference light stone–colored (drab) fancy chairs (see fig. 17) by pattern. A Norwich, Connecticut, notice of 1830 for Congdon and Tracy describes light-colored chairs with “double backs,” or two cross slats. A bill to Benjamin Sharpless in 1842 from Joseph Jones of West Chester, Pennsylvania, lists “Ball B[ack] Chairs Drab, bronz bands,” the backs an open-ball fret, the price over $2.00 apiece. Drab-colored chairs, sold in the mid-1830s at Hartford, Connecticut, by Philemon Robbins, had turned roll tops. Priced at $1.50 each, the chairs had rush or cane seats. A shop supplier of drab fancy seating was Lambert Hitchcock, who opened a chair store at Hartford in the mid-1830s to complement his factory at Hitchcocksville. Isaac Wright was another Hartford artisan-patron of Hitchcock’s for drab chairs.
Several chairmakers of the many who produced “dark-colored,” or dark stone, fancy chairs worked from the 1820s to midcentury. Probate records indicate that at least one patron of the shop of Benjamin Branson at New York owed the estate $6.00 in 1831 for “painting One Dozen fancy Chairs Dark.” Appraisers of Charles Riley’s estate at Philadelphia assigned a price of $1.35 to each of six dark-colored, cane-seat fancy chairs forming a set in his shop, the unit price sufficient to account for modest decoration. Like Riley, Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, had a large business. His production of dark stone–colored fancy chairs with roll tops and cane or rush seats paralleled his output of light-colored (drab) and tea-colored fancy seating, some of it acquired from Lambert Hitchcock. Prices stood above $1.00 apiece. A “plain” chair retailed for $1.06; one with “gilt” could command as much as $1.56.
The red paint employed on Windsor and fancy seating furniture until the early 1800s likely was the reddish brown surface coating made with the pigment Spanish brown used on common rush-bottom chairs during the eighteenth century. Given the dominance of green for Windsor chairs until after the Revolution, red paint probably was a viable option for Windsor seating only with the introduction of the bow-back pattern in the mid-1780s. At his death in 1796, Robert Casey, a resident of Baltimore County, Maryland, owned “6 green Chairs,” probably Windsors, valued at 3s. (50¢) apiece and a “1/2 Dozen Windsor Chairs (red)” estimated at 7s. 6d. ($1.25) apiece. The number of chairs in each group is a reasonable indication that all were side chairs. The modest valuation of the green chairs suggests they were older fan-back Windsors, whereas the high valuation of the red chairs suggests they were relatively new and in the current bow-back style.
Once introduced to bow-back seating, red paint was a choice for other Windsor patterns. Probate records indicate that painted Windsor armchairs were popular on Nantucket Island, where many householders had an armchair to supplement their side chairs, and a few residents owned several armchairs, even sets of half a dozen. The “6 Round back Red Chairs” owned by Jonathan Burnell in 1799 and appraised at $1.67 apiece were armchairs. They may have been new bow-back Windsors, although the high valuation suggests a more complex pattern, such as a sack-back chair. Amos D. Allen of Connecticut noted another style of Windsor armchair painted red in his order book: “9 Fancy Ch[air]s red, cushions green, edged white @ 15/6,” or $2.57 apiece. “Fancy” was the term for the continuous-bow Windsor used by the Tracy family of chairmakers, of which Allen was a member. “Cushions” were stuffed work nailed in place; edging was painted pinstriping.
The use of “red” paint on Windsor seating continued into the early nineteenth century, when James Chase of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, sold sets of bamboo-turned square-back chairs to several customers, including one order supplemented by “one Great [arm] Char painted Read.” In 1817 at the death of William Hemphill, an attorney of West Chester, Pennsylvania, “6 Red Windsor Chairs” were part of the furnishings of his “office.” Other red “Wooden” chairs furnished the extensive boarding and day school run by Lewis Bancel during the 1820s in lower Manhattan, still the center of city business at that date.
In March 1820 David Alling, an entrepreneur chairmaker of Newark, New Jersey, shipped two dozen each of bent-back Windsors and rush-bottom fancy chairs painted “read” and gilded to Nathan Bolles, a New Orleans retailer. Given the date, Alling’s proximity to the furniture style center at New York, and the pricing, $2.92 apiece for the Windsors and $4.58 each for the fancy chairs, the red of these chairs probably was the bright hue called “coquelicot,” introduced to the market sometime before 1807, probably at Baltimore, New York, or Philadelphia (see fig. 34). The French word identifies the European corn poppy of bright orange-red color. Although coquelicot had currency in Windsor work (fig. 18), it was more common as a surface finish for fancy seating. The bent-back Windsors from Alling’s shop were matched in general pattern by the “60 Bent Back Coquilicot Winsor Chairs” acquired in New York in 1810 by Brown and Ives, merchants of Providence, Rhode Island, for exportation to Buenos Aires on the George and Mary. These chairs were accompanied by “72 Bamboo Coquilicot [Chairs]” with straight backs. Bent-back seating has rear posts shaved on the faces to permit their being bent with steam. Bamboo posts are solid and straight (although canted in their sockets) and marked with “creases” to simulate the grooves of the plant. Use of coquelicot color moved quickly from the East Coast to the Midwest. Stibbs and Stout were new to business at Cincinnati, Ohio, when they announced their partnership in 1816 to pursue fancy flag-bottom and Windsor chairmaking in fashionable colors that included coquelicot.
A paint recipe to produce the brilliant orange-red color of coquelicot has yet to be located. Only red and scarlet are identified. In 1812, when Hezekiah Reynolds proposed a red coating for “painting inside work,” he named five pigments identified in craftsmen’s records: Venetian red, vermilion, red lead, Spanish brown, and red ochre. Each produced a different hue. Spanish brown and red ochre are earth derivatives and heavily tinged with brown. Venetian red also has a strong brown character. Red lead, roasted, produced a bright orange-red, although it had a tendency to turn black, making it unsuitable for special work. Only vermilion, described variously as bright scarlet, yellowish red, or red tinged with orange, appears to have produced a suitable imitation of the red poppy. In his Decorative Painters’ and Glaziers’ Guide (1827) Nathaniel Whittock stated that vermilion could be “depended on for durability.” It was expensive to produce, as indicated in craftsmen’s accounts, where the cost of vermilion is higher than that of other red pigments and its occurrence less frequent. When painting with vermilion, Elijah Eldredge recommended grinding the pigment in oil, then brushing the work “twice over.” An anonymous collection of recipes for surface coating dating to about 1800 advises painting “Scarlet Red” using vermilion with a primer of red lead. Following a move from Boston to Vermont in 1811–12, Thomas Boynton continued to order supplies from Boston for his chairmaking business, including “orange red” paint.
Early-nineteenth-century fancy chairs painted red were mainly of coquelicot color (fig. 19). Samuel Gridley of Boston, who imported seating furniture from New York, advertised in April 1807 that he stocked coquelicot and gilt fancy chairs with cane or rush seats. Several years later, the partnership of Nolen and Gridley offered coquelicot chairs ornamented with a “gold Grecian Border” and double-cross-back chairs decorated with an “Eagle.” Meanwhile, Patterson and Dennis of New York introduced a cutting-edge style in coquelicot and gilt with “cane bottoms and cane backs, an entire new pattern.” By 1809 William Challen of New York had relocated to Lexington, Kentucky, to make fancy chairs in a range of colors, including coquelicot trimmed in gold, with settees to match. The same year Stephen Girard, a Philadelphia merchant, outfitted the Voltaire for a voyage to China with stops in South America, a good market for painted seating furniture. On board were “One Dozen Cocolico Chairs” priced at $4.17 apiece and a settee valued at $20.00.
Several uncommon terms for Windsor and fancy seating colors, namely “blossom,” “pink,” and “rose,” appear closely related, if not the same pink of bluish purple hue. “Flesh color,” another pink surface, probably exhibited a yellow or orange tinge. A dozen “blossom Couler” chairs with “organ Spindles” were part of a consignment of furniture David Alling shipped from Newark, New Jersey, in March 1819 to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans. Blossom probably is the same color described in paint recipes as “peach blow” or “peach blossom.” To mix this color, Rufus Porter recommended adding small amounts of ultramarine blue and lake, a purplish red pigment, to white lead. Pink and rose represented minor variations of this recipe. James J. Skerrett’s “6 Pink Chairs” purchased in 1818 at Philadelphia from Haydon and Stewart were comparable in price at $2.25 apiece to Alling’s blossom-colored chairs. The price indicates that both groups were substantially ornamented. At the death in 1833 of Thomas Devor, a chairmaker of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, chairs of both “rose” and “flesh” color stood in the shop. Appraisers distinguished between the two groups, suggesting there were noticeable differences in their basic pink hues. The blue cast of the rose was replaced by a yellow or orange cast in the flesh color. In a collection of recipes compiled in 1837, Waldo Tucker described flesh color as a mixture of white and “light ochre burnt,” or roasted, to produce a light red color. Other painters chose vermilion as the tinting pigment. The flesh color of Devor’s chairs likely was termed salmon color in other documents. As part of a shipment of three hundred fancy chairs received from New York in 1810, Nolen and Gridley of Boston offered “Salmon”-colored double-cross-back fancy chairs with “Grape Leaf” decoration.
Among surface colors identified for Windsor and fancy seating in craft records, blue is mentioned least often, although documents provide several noteworthy highlights and general insights. An early reference of 1785 identifies “Windsor chairs painted blue” among auctioned furnishings of Major James Swan, a Boston merchant who had a temporary reversal of fortune. The pattern and origin of Swan’s chairs are uncertain, although side chairs seem implied. Philadelphia was the design center for fan-back and bow-back Windsors of the late 1770s and mid-1780s, respectively, and the city was the source of new color options, including blue, to supplement the ubiquitous verdigris green. At the time of Major Swan’s auction, Windsor chairmaking was in its infancy at Boston, the first notice dating only to 1786 and the color choice limited to one—green. The supposition is that Swan’s Windsors originated at Philadelphia and were carried home in one of his own vessels. Given the auction date, his chairs likely were fan-backs. Seating described in 1802 as “6 Blue Fanback [Chairs]” was in the estate of Captain Hale Hilton at Beverly, Massachusetts. Valuation of the chairs at $1.10 apiece indicates they were in good condition and relatively new. A few records describe requests for dual surface colors, as recorded by Amos D. Allen of Windham, Connecticut, in 1800 when he sold a customer “6 fanback’d [Chairs] painted blue, bot[tom]s Mahog[any]” color.
Ultimately, the newer bow-back Windsor proved to be the popular side chair of the late eighteenth century, principally because its compact rounded back was the perfect design for seating at a dining table. In the typically large eighteenth-century family, dining space was an important consideration. A few individuals with spacious rooms purchased bow-back armchairs for dining, although space remained a concern. Joseph Barrell, a wealthy Bostonian who built a handsome house in the 1790s at neighboring Charlestown, had household decor in mind when placing an order with his agents in New York for chairs: “18 of the handsomest windsor Chairs fit for Dining & my Hall. I would have them with arms, rather less in the Seat . . . , as they will thereby accomodate more at table. I would have them painted of light blue gray Colour, the same as my summer dining Room. . . . Let them be strong and neat.” Dining chairs were at times repainted blue, whether that color was new or duplicated the original surface. In 1797 James Chase of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, noted a job of “painting four Dining Chairs Blue,” the charge 2s., or 33¢, apiece.
A few Windsor craftsmen, among them Amos D. Allen of Windham, Connecticut, offered Windsors with stuffed seats, an option that more than doubled the cost of a chair. Colonel Z. Swift acquired nine “Cushioned” chairs painted blue and “edged,” or pinstriped, in 1798, the charge 16s. ($2.67) per chair. A year later Captain R. Ripley purchased “6 fancy [continuous-bow] Ch[air]s without braces—Cushions, Blue, edged.” Having both arms and cushioned seats, these chairs likely were for use in a parlor. Stuffed-seat chairs, like plain chairs, occasionally needed refurbishing. Elizur Barnes of Middletown described a job he completed in 1822 for John Ledge: “Painting 8 Cheirs Blue & Covering Seets.” The low charge of 50¢ per chair indicates the original stuffing was retained and only the show cover was changed. Customers with smaller pocketbooks could simulate the appearance of stuffed-seat chairs by directing the seats be painted a contrasting color. In 1803 David Russell of Winchester, Virginia, sold L. Lewis, possibly a retailer, two handsome chair lots with two-color paint described as “One Dozen [chairs] & 2 arms of a mazarine blue with mahogany bottoms” (fig. 20) and “Half a Dozen [Chairs] painted pale blue, yellow bottoms.” The lot containing the armchairs perhaps was divided into two sets for retail. The mazarine blue of the chairs was a deep, rich color, probably compounded using the pigment Prussian blue.
Several groups of blue Windsors sold by craftsmen date to the turn of the nineteenth century, making it difficult to determine the pattern. Bow-back chairs, new in the mid-1780s, continued to be made for a few years after 1800, particularly in New England. Square-back Windsors were introduced about 1800, the early patterns made with single or double cross rods forming the crest. Amasa Holden’s six blue Windsors purchased from David Stowell at Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1801 for $1.33 the chair could have had either round or square backs. A purchase in 1804 of similarly priced Windsors by Josiah Walker from the shop of Oliver Wight at Sturbridge was described as “Dining Chares.” Whereas the compact bow-back design initially elevated the Windsor to prominence for dining, the square-back styles of the early nineteenth century continued the momentum. When Silas E. Cheney of Litchfield, Connecticut, supplied a customer with Windsor side chairs in 1809 at $1.38 apiece, they were described as “6 sq[uare] Chairs Blue.”
Prussian blue was the pigment in blue paint used for vernacular seating in the period under study. Most other pigments were unsatisfactory for this purpose, except ultramarine, which was made from lapis lazuli and expensive for general use. Prussian blue was transparent and required mixing with white lead “where a body [was] wanted.” Alternatively, the painter could brush Prussian blue “2 [twice] over the wood on A priming of lampblack and white lead.” To obtain David Russell’s “mazarine” and “pale” blues, Prussian blue and white lead were mixed in varying proportions. If not compounded properly, Prussian blue could “turn greenish or olive” over time.
Information on fancy chairs painted blue is limited, although it is possible to describe the surface range and richness found in this construction form. Robert R. Livingston, chancellor of New York State, engaged Willam Challen of New York in 1798 to supply his household with “6 Blue Japan’d Chairs” at cost of $3.42 apiece. By the late eighteenth century, the practice of japanning using ground coats of size and whiting, as performed in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, had given way to a simpler, more stable ground consisting of several coats of chairmakers’ varnish. Over this was applied japan made from shellac varnish and a paint pigment, in this case Prussian blue with white lead to make it opaque. Several japan coats, the last one polished, provided a lustrous surface.
References to fancy chairs painted blue can describe basic to ornamental schemes. Fancy chairs in the Chester County, Pennsylvania, estate of Daniel Eachus in 1823 are described as “Pale blue” without further comment. Gilding was an expensive choice. James J. Skerrett’s “8 Chairs Blue and Gilt” purchased in 1817 from James Mitchell at Philadelphia cost $5.00 apiece. The rich decoration suggests these were parlor chairs. William Cunningham of Wheeling, (West) Virginia, described another option in March 1839, when billing a Mr. A. Broadwell of Cynthiana, Kentucky, $40.00 for “1 Dozen of scroll post, cane seat chairs blue, black ornamented” ($3.33 each). Black may have identified an entire decorative scheme or striping only. The chairs were shipped boxed. The trip from Wheeling to Cynthiana, while long, was direct: down the Ohio River by steamboat for 350 miles to Licking River on the Kentucky shore opposite Cincinnati; up the Licking by steamer about 45 miles, and overland the short distance to Cynthiana, likely utilizing Kentucky’s “splendid system of macadamized roads,” as local rail transport was little developed. Mr. Broadwell’s purchase raises a question, however. Why buy fancy chairs at Wheeling, when similar furniture was available at Cincinnati, a flourishing chairmaking center 66 miles north of Cynthiana opposite Licking River? Without further data, there is no satisfactory answer.
Grain painting can be defined as “a process of painting furniture and woodwork by which the colour and figure of a more costly wood [or other material is] counterfeited in one of a cheaper kind.” The practice of graining woodwork was established in England by the seventeenth century, whereas the first grain-painted interiors in America date from the early eighteenth century. Ornamented surfaces in early American furniture are found principally on joined rather than turned forms, with figures, foliage, and borders on plain-painted grounds more popular than grained surfaces. Grain painting became common for turned seating furniture only in the early nineteenth century, although the practice was well established by 1821, when David Bates, a chairmaker at the nation’s capital, noted that “his imitations of the different woods in the European style are equalled by none in this District.” By midcentury Rufus Porter reported substantial interest in “Imitation Painting”: “Imitations or pretended imitations of oak, maple, mahogany, or marble, may be seen on three-fourths of the doors of houses in the cities, besides wainscoting, chimney pieces, and furniture.”
Beginning in the early 1810s, maple and rosewood were the usual grained surfaces on turned seating furniture. Simulated maple Windsors were known as “imitation maple chairs” (fig. 21) or simply “imitation chairs.” Fancy seating painted in this manner probably led in the market. Focusing on the Windsor, David Alling recorded a shipment to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans in 1820 of “2 doz Imitation Curled maple square seat” chairs priced at $2.50 apiece. The price suggests the Windsors were richly ornamented, although that figure represented only 54 to 63 percent of the retail cost of Alling’s maple-grained fancy chairs shipped to Bolles.
By the mid-1830s, chair prices were significantly lower, patterns simpler, and turned work less detailed. Decoration still played a large role in pricing, from modest striping to detailed painted, stenciled (bronzed), and gilded ornament. The 83¢ Jason Williams paid Stephen Taylor at Providence, Rhode Island, for each of “12 square seat chairs Im[itation] maple” probably was in the shop’s top pricing range for Windsor seating. Sullivan Hill of Spencer, Massachusetts, supplied “imitation Chairs” to Philemon Robbins at Hartford, Connecticut, for 50¢ apiece wholesale. Robbins’s markup would have reflected his profit and the cost of ornamental work done in the shop. Hill was one of several suppliers patronized by Robbins, although his location required an overland trip of more than fifty miles with a team and wagon, whereas other Massachusetts suppliers were able to ship their chairs down the Connecticut River to Hartford. Hill probably made some, or all, of the trips himself, as suggested in an entry in Robbins’s accounts for 1835 crediting the supplier with 217 chairs of several patterns. Hill’s return trip to Spencer was made profitable by supplying Robbins with teamster services in “Carting wash stands & dress[ing] tables to Worcester.”
Luke Houghton of rural Barre, Massachusetts, a contemporary of Philemon Robbins, also acquired chair stock from suppliers, including David West and Daniel Witt of Phillipston, a sister community of northern Worcester County. By the mid-1820s, this region had developed a thriving wholesale chair industry involving many local towns (see fig. 21). The optimal regional conditions that made this possible are described in a contemporary gazetteer: “Its surface is rather undulating than hilly. The soil is generally strong. . . . Its water power is abundant in almost every town, and perhaps in no section of New England are the interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures more completely blended.” Of further significance to the flourishing state of the chair trade was the presence of raw materials close at hand. Among Houghton’s customers was Joseph Osgood Jr., who in 1838 purchased “6 imitation chairs” of Windsor construction for 83¢ apiece, one of many sets of this description and price retailed by Houghton.
When Charles Riley of Philadelphia died in 1842, appraisers faced a substantial task, since Riley had operated a large chairmaking facility. The inventory and the auctioneer’s account of sales list Windsor chairs of several surface colors, including “Imitation Maple.” Two construction patterns appear to be noted. The term “Baltimore” identifies ninety grained Windsors that likely had tablet-style crests mounted on the back posts. A single “Set Imitation Maple” chairs could well have been framed in a slat-back pattern. The chairs were valued low, a typical appraisal practice, although some may have lacked decoration on the grained ground. Standing in Riley’s manufactory with the grained Windsors were “12 Imitation Rush Seat Maple” fancy chairs each valued at $1.25, about twice that of the Windsors.
Prices obtained about 1810 at the introduction of maple-grained fancy seating were much higher than those realized at midcentury. Levi Hollingsworth, a leading Philadelphia merchant with interests in the Chesapeake Bay region, made two large purchases of “chairs with rush bottoms in imitation of maple” in 1812 from the firm of Haydon and Stewart. All told, there were forty side chairs and four armchairs priced at $4.25 and $6.50, respectively. Seven years later, David Alling’s chair shipments from Newark, New Jersey, to New Orleans included three dozen “Curl’d Maple & Gilt” fancy chairs, some priced at $4.00 apiece. Chairs with a “pannel” in “back” cost $4.67.
Craftsmen’s estate records of the 1830s provide further insight on the currency of maple-grained fancy seating. Peter Peirce, a chairmaker of Templeton, Massachusetts, owned a homestead farm containing an extensive chair shop and mill at his death in 1836 at age forty-six. The “18 Fancy Imitation [Maple] Chairs” of low valuation in the estate inventory likely were part of his household and of some age. Business assets of the insolvent partnership of Parrott and Hubbel at Bridgeport, Connecticut, included framed and painted “imitation Curled Maple” seating. A dozen chairs had cane seats. Another dozen, identified as “Grecian,” probably had ogee-profile sawed posts scrolling backward at the top, with front legs sawed to an ogee profile or fancy turned.
Several records of the 1830s indicate that repainting fancy seating in imitation of maple was relatively common, whether to reflect an original surface or to introduce a new scheme. At Newark, New Jersey, David Alling recorded two jobs charged at 62 1/2¢ per chair. The large number of chairs he repainted for Anthony Dye, Esq., twenty-eight in all, suggests the seating could have furnished Dye’s home and place of business. At Providence, Rhode Island, Henry Barnard charged Albert C. Greene, Esq., slightly more at 75¢ per chair for “painting 12 chairs curl’d maple.”
The ground for maple graining was straw color, composed of white lead and a yellow pigment ground in linseed oil. Rufus Porter recommended a combination of chrome yellow and yellow ochre. When the ground was dry, the graining coat was brushed on and, while wet, manipulated to form the desired imitative figure. Some graining was executed in distemper, that is, a water-based medium, although painters usually employed an oil medium on seating furniture for greater durability. The coloring pigment for the graining coat was either terra di sienna or umber. A coat of varnish secured the finish. Craftsmen used various implements to execute the grained figure—graining combs, special brushes, cloth, feathers, and corks or stiff leather cut to special patterns. Both Rufus Porter and Nathaniel Whittock advised the novice painter to obtain a piece of wood or veneer “to guide him in forming the grains and shades.” Maple graining in cheaper seating could be produced by applying striping over the ground, using a brush and darker paint.
Craftsmen executed rosewood graining in two ways: with a red ground and graining coat of black or a black ground grained in red. Esther Stevens Brazer, who made an extensive study of painted surfaces and ornament on preindustrial American furniture, stated that a red ground with black graining was the more common of the two, noting, however, that Lambert Hitchcock’s earliest chair work in Connecticut displays a black ground with red graining. This probably is the painted combination “black rose wood” that Sheraton made passing reference to in his Cabinet Dictionary (1803), when noting that a chair illustrated in one of the plates would “look well in painted black rose wood and gold.” The popularity of black rosewood color in London probably stemmed from a familiarity with black rosewood timber first imported from India in the 1750s. Painters made the black coat from lampblack, and the brownish red coat, whether ground or graining, from red lead or Venetian red. Grained rosewood patterns were achieved using various implements at the pleasure of the grainer. Some graining was daubed, reminiscent of early-eighteenth-century japanned grounds. William G. Beesley of Salem, New Jersey, recorded a common pattern in the 1830s described as “streaking and ornamenting” or “streaking & shading,” when working for craftsman Elijah Ware (fig. 22). In the finest rosewood graining, painters finished their work with a coat of plain or tinted varnish polished to a lustrous surface.
In 1819, when Bates and Johnson advertised their chair facility at Albany, New York, where they finished Windsor and fancy chairs with rosewood grounds, David Alling, a chair manufacturer of Newark, New Jersey, shipped “Rose wood Winsor bent back” chairs to retailer Nathan Bolles at New Orleans, the price set at $2.25 the chair. In 1820 Bolles received rosewood Windsors with organ spindles or flat spindles, some with “Square seats,” priced at $2.00 or $2.50 the chair. Two decades later, appraisers of Charles Riley’s Philadelphia estate valued rosewood Windsors with “bent” backs and “Strait Backs” at low figures, an indication that the surfaces lacked decoration.
Simulated rosewood fancy chairs were marketed successfully from the early nineteenth century. Notices by chairmakers and retailers covered the commercial community from Providence, Rhode Island, to Cleveland, Ohio, and from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina. The Providence firm of Sackett and Branch described its stock of fancy seating, which included rosewood-finish chairs with “flag seats,” as “made by the best of workmen and choice stuff, and painted in Providence with the best of paints and finished by workmen that are second to none.” Too often imported chairs arrived with surfaces bruised and scraped.
Two prosperous entrepreneurs who successfully merchandised rosewood-painted fancy chairs in the 1810s were Stephen Girard, a Philadelphia merchant, and David Alling, a chairmaker of Newark, New Jersey, a location close to the style center at New York. When Girard’s ship North America sailed from the Delaware River for Port Louis on the Isle of France (Mauritius), the vessel carried eighty-eight rosewood-grained chairs priced individually from $4.00 to $8.00. That price range indicates substantial differences in ornament and structural pattern, of which only a “Scrowl back” profile is identified. Decoration focused on gilded and bronzed ornament. More descriptive is Alling’s record of nine dozen grained chairs, priced mostly between $4.00 and $5.00, shipped to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans. One dozen chairs had “bent front feet” (flaring outward). Other chairs had back features described as slats and oval or diamond frets (see fig. 13). Three dozen chairs were gilded; four dozen more were gilded and bronzed. A dozen chairs had a “pine apple in back,” although the medium is unidentified. One group of gilded rush-seated chairs that differed from the others in its ground is described as “rose wood near a black walnut Couler,” possibly Sheraton’s black rosewood.
Grain-painted chairs continued in fashion in the 1830s, when an Alling patron deposited seven fancy chairs at the shop to be refurbished by “pting m[at]ts yellow, wood rosewood.” Painting rush seats probably was more common than records indicate. Sheraton encouraged the practice because it hardened and preserved the rushes, making the seats less vulnerable to wear and tear. Cane, the alternative material for fancy-chair seats, was identified in chairs of imitation rosewood appraised at Abraham McDonough’s shop at Philadelphia.
On occasion householders requested grain-painted chairs in surfaces other than curled maple or rosewood, the principal choices being imitation mahogany, satinwood, and marble, although examples are rare today. In 1845 Frederick Fox advertised “imitation . . . Mahagony Chairs” from his Reading, Pennsylvania, shop, and Abraham McDonough’s Philadelphia estate of 1852 contained forty-eight “im[itation] mahog[any] Cain seat chairs.” Though contemporary recipes for preparing grained mahogany grounds focus on finishes for woodwork, they were easily adapted for finishing furniture. Painters began with a ground coat of either flesh color (white lead with red lead or Venetian red) or straw color (white lead with yellow ochre). The graining was one of several pigments, including Vandyke brown, burnt terra di sienna, and umber, sometimes applied in several coats varying in depth of color. A finish coat of copal varnish protected the surface. Graining tools included linen or cotton cloth, sponges, textured brushes, grainers, blenders, and “wash leather” (chamois?). A painter could supply himself with actual samples of mahogany to imitate (fig. 23).
Sheraton noted in his Cabinet Dictionary the popularity of satinwood among English cabinetmakers and their clients. The straw-colored wood has an appealing satinlike quality that also was recognized among American consumers. Although grained imitations of satinwood seating (fig. 24) never achieved special interest among American families, a few records note its availability. William Haydon of Philadelphia advertised fancy japanned chairs in 1815 in imitations of rosewood, maple, and satinwood. When Haydon partnered with William H. Stewart in 1812, the prominent Quaker Reuben Haines visited their Walnut Street shop to order twenty-two side chairs and two armchairs identified as “Fancy rush bottomed chairs satinwood imitation plain” at $3.75 and $5.62 1/2 the chair, respectively. In time, the chairs were transferred to Wyck, the Haines family ancestral home in Germantown. Several years after Haines purchased his chairs, David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, directed his painter, Moses Lyon, to grain a few dozen chairs in the same manner. Some, or all, of the chairs had slat backs. Decoration consisted of bronzework or striping, although one group received both types of ornament.
To paint an imitation satinwood surface, Nathaniel Whittock recommended beginning with a buff ground, probably compounded from white lead and yellow ochre. Yellow ochre alone in a suitable medium was the graining coat. Further color and texture were achieved with a thin glaze of umber and raw sienna. Sheraton’s recipe for this grained finish used a different selection of materials: “A fine tint of sattinwood may be imitated by gambouge, bister, and a little lake; and for shading furniture on the dark side, add more of the bister and lake.” Gamboge is a bright yellow pigment made from tree resins; bister, a dark brown, is derived from soot. Lake is crimson red.
Marbling was uncommon in vernacular seating furniture. This form of graining usually was reserved for tabletops, as advertised in 1815 by William Haydon at Philadelphia. An inventory of 1806 identifies “8 wooden Chairs painted like grey marble” in the Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania, home of Samuel P. Broome. The chairs stood in his “Yellow Hall or Eating room,” the colors making a striking contrast. Furnishing his house with simulated marble chairs probably was a conceit on Broome’s part, inasmuch as he was the proprietor of a marble quarry. Within two years, appraisers on Nantucket Island identified “1/2 dozen marblebottom Chairs” in the home of Jacob Chandler, a ship’s carpenter. Chandler’s chairs appear to have had a two-color surface scheme, the seats alone simulating marble. Rufus Porter, in discussing “Imitation Painting” in Scientific American, stated that “Imitations of marble are produced on white or light slate-colored grounds.” Before the ground was dry, the painter applied the “shading colors,” or graining, and immediately blended them into the ground with an appropriate tool. The common shading was a mixture of blue, black, and white, although green, yellow, and red also were in use. Like other grained surfaces, a varnish coat secured the work. On the subject of marbled seating furniture, Nathaniel Whittock had firm ideas, as expressed in his Guide: “In painting chairs it is sometimes the practice to marble them; nothing can be in worst taste, as no imitation should ever be introduced where the reality could not be applied if persons chose to go to the expense—and who would choose a marble chair?”
The application of painted ornament to enhance the painted or japanned surfaces of vernacular seating gained a foothold in America in the early 1790s. Whereas Samuel Claphamson, a London immigrant, advertised “fancy” and “bamboo” chairs at Philadelphia by 1785, evidence supporting public interest in ornamented seating is thin before 1793, when Daniel Rea Jr., an ornamental painter of Boston, charged a client 18s. ($3.00) for “Painting, Varnishing, and Ornament’g Six Chamber Chairs” (fancy chairs). Two years later Rea recorded “painting seven winsor Chairs mehogony Colour, Varn[ishin]g &c, ornamented” at 18s. 8d. The mahogany color here was not a grained surface. By 1812 the craft of ornamental chair painting was well established, as indicated in a Columbian Centinel notice at Boston: “WANTED—a Journeyman PAINTER, one who understands ornamental Chair Painting, &c, will find constant employment and prompt pay.”
Several decorative forms made up the body of ornament. Lines and bands were basic. The next level introduced to the crest a prominent figure or composition. By 1810 bronzework executed with metallic powders in varnish was an alternative or enhancement to hand-painted decoration, and gilding was becoming fashionable as a rich embellishment in the best decorative work. Briefly, at the start of the nineteenth century, a visual option in Windsor seating was the use of dual-color surface paint, the general structure painted one color and the seat a second color.
In 1838 James C. Helme, a woodworker of Plymouth, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, prepared a handwritten “Book of Prices for making Cabinet and Chair furnature,” listing payments to journeymen for various tasks. Prices paid for “painting chairs fit for ornementing” were the same for Windsor and fancy chairs at 50¢ per half dozen. Pay by the half dozen for basic ornamental work and a finish coat of varnish depended on chair type and structure: straight-back chairs were 50¢ the half dozen, and bent-back chairs, 62¢ per half dozen, the shaved faces of the back posts creating additional flat surfaces for decoration. Pay for ornamenting ball-back chairs, with back slats and short ball-centered spindles, was the same as for bent-back chairs. Higher at 65¢ the half dozen were payments for ornamenting roll-top chairs, the crest a turned roll above two slats at mid-back. Highest priced at 81¢ the half dozen was elaborate ornament for “Stump Back” (fancy) chairs, framed with a tablet-type crest rabbeted to the upper faces of the back posts.
As suggested by the interior view in figure 25, large shops were set up to handle all phases of chair manufacture, including ornamenting. At the back of the painting room in William Buttre’s New York chair manufactory, a workman grinds pigment for paint using a large flat stone and a stone muller. A jug for oil used in grinding stands on the bench behind him; at the right is a spatula to gather the powdered material as it scatters on the stone. The specialist at the left ornaments a painted double-cross-back fancy chair using a fine brush. A third workman at the right front applies a finish, or varnish, coat to a similar chair. He uses a large round-headed brush as he balances one front chair leg on a block of wood, enabling him to turn the chair in any direction to coat all surfaces. The single-cross-back fancy chair at the center will doubtless receive a similar coating.
Once chairs were ornamented and varnished, it was critical to safeguard the surfaces from bruises, scratches, and abrasions. Craftsmen took various steps to protect their work. After “painting & ornamenting Six windsor Chairs” in 1831 for George Harvey, James Gere of Groton, Connecticut, undertook “Carting home” the chairs at a small charge to Harvey’s residence at Preston, a town eighteen miles distant, thus ensuring the furniture was properly packed. Joel Brown of Raleigh, North Carolina, went a step further, offering to deliver chairs to a “distance of 30 or 40 miles either from Raleigh or Fayetteville [to] paint and ornament them at the house of the person ordering them, so as to suit the rooms and prevent their being injured by carriage over rough roads.” Dockum and Brown of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, pursued another plan to avoid injury to finished surfaces during water travel: “just received ONE THOUSAND CHAIRS, of various kinds and colors, painted and gilded in this town by the first rate workmen from Boston” (see fig. 1).
The simplest form of chair ornament was lines drawn on painted surfaces—from narrow pinstripes to broad bands. Craftsmen’s records identify six terms relating to this type of decoration: creasing, penciling, stringing, edging, tipping, and striping. “Creasing” accented the grooves, or “creases,” in bamboowork (see fig. 10). In 1797 Daniel Rea Jr., an ornamenter of Boston, painted “two Windsor Chairs Patent yellow & Creas’d in Green.” “Penciling” probably identified the same process, the term having broader use to describe pinstriping as well. Amos Bradley of East Haven, Connecticut, recorded at least 140 chairs penciled in his shop in 1806 and 1807, including six painted white. A credit for Charles Stow, a shop workman, indicates he framed “54 Wooden Bottom Chairs” in 1807 over a period of 13 1/2 days, spent another 6 days painting them, and 4 1/2 days “penciling them.” The penciling “tool” was a slim, long-tipped camel’s-hair brush called a “pencil.”
“Stringing,” “edging,” and “tipping,” terms current in the early 1800s, describe the process of applying fine lines, or pinstripes, to a surface (see fig. 33). The genesis of “stringing” as a painting technique was in the practice of inlaying cabinet work with fine lines. In 1804 Solomon Cole of Glastonbury, Connecticut, noted the sale of “6 fanback Chairs strung,” the charge $1.50 per chair. Amos D. Allen of Windham preferred to describe the process as “edging,” and, judging from his sales for 1798 through 1802, the decoration was popular with his clients. The introduction of fine painted lines was not confined to new chairs. Shubael Abbe paid Allen for “Edgeing Dineing Chairs” in his household. James Chase of New Hampshire and Ephraim Evans of Virginia used the term “tipping” to describe painting fine lines. Chase sold “6 fanback Chars tipt” in 1801 and later tipped half a dozen “Bambo Chars.” Tipping bamboo chairs probably described creasing. In 1802 Evans advertised a reward for the return of a set of yellow round-back chairs purloined from his shop, described as “tip’d with black.”
In 1801, when using the term “striping” to identify detailing on Windsor furniture, Daniel Rea Jr. of Boston and Titus Preston of Wallingford, Connecticut, probably described pinstriping. Only when broad surfaces and thick elements, such as slats, tablets, shaved posts, fancy legs, and heavy rings, became part of vernacular chair design could craftsmen introduce a decorative stripe, or band, to form a line wider than a string or a crease. A requisite structure to accommodate striping appeared earlier in the fancy chair than in the Windsor by perhaps a decade. The first fancy chairs with stripes, or bands, probably were marketed shortly after 1800 (see fig. 19). Preston’s bill of 1820 to George Wilnut for “6 green dining [Windsor] chairs striped” probably used the decorative term in its proper sense because by that date slat-type crests were common in Windsor seating. Concurrent evidence describes diffusion of the ornament. Tapping Reeve, founder of the Litchfield Law School, purchased “6 fancy [white] Doining striped Chairs” locally from Silas E. Cheney. Allen Holcomb, who worked briefly in Troy, New York, was paid for “painting the Seats & striping five fancy Chairs.” When working in the shop of Thomas Boynton, at Windsor, Vermont, John Patterson striped chairs described as “B[road] top” and “narrow top,” terms that identified either slat depth or tablet width. At Newark, New Jersey, David Alling embraced urban New York styles, represented by the “Single Cross [Back] Chair” striped by his workman Moses Lyon (see fig. 25).
Striping was a decorative accent for vernacular seating through 1850, and activity by the 1830s was brisk (see figs. 11, 23). Imitation surfaces were still popular, as confirmed by Daniel Dewey of Hartford, Connecticut, who painted and striped eight “imitation Curl maple” chairs for Daniel Wadsworth. Striped Windsors of plain green ground were part of Thomas Devor’s stock in Pennsylvania, whereas David Alling of New Jersey described fancy rush-bottom seating when “matting, moulding, pting, & striping 8 bell seat Ch[ai]rs.” “Bell” seats were rounded in profile and broader at the front than back (see fig. 13). “Moulding,” as identified by Alling, was a flexible strip of wood for casing the seat edges, held fast with small nails and often striped with a broad band. When records identify the color of banding or pinstriping, yellow and green are named. White is mentioned on occasion, and black less frequently. Other colors were selected from time to time.
Several special decorative effects relate closely to the practices of striping and pinstriping vernacular seating. Titus Preston of Wallingford, Connecticut, identified one in 1804, when recording an order for Cornelius Cook: “6 green dining chairs striped, 8d. each for striping . . . the striping . . . to be a vine on the front of the bow & legs.” The price per chair for this set of bow-back Windsors with bamboo-style turnings was $1.28. Other references describe “sprigging,” a contemporary technique. Written evidence here focuses on Connecticut, although the practice was more widespread (fig. 26). The device can consist of a triangular cluster of short, grasslike blades adjoining the creases in bamboo-style legs and back posts. Stephen Tracy and Nathaniel F. Martin, chairmaking neighbors at Lisbon and Windsor in eastern Connecticut, sold sprigged “Dining Chairs” in 1806 and 1809 for $1.33 the chair. The cost of painting sprigged decoration augmented by creasing was recorded as 14¢ the chair in 1811 by Oliver Avery of North Stonington. In western Connecticut, Silas E. Cheney of Litchfield made a charge of £2.11 in 1806 for “6 Doining Chars sprig,” the price at $1.42 the chair comparable to that of his eastern colleagues.
The practice of applying ornamental figures to painted or japanned surfaces of vernacular chairs probably gained initial interest among American consumers in the 1790s as a market developed for fancy seating following its introduction from England about the mid-1780s. Before the 1790s, painted figures appeared occasionally on seating furniture associated with the ritual of fraternal organizations. On August 23, 1786, Daniel Rea Jr., an ornamental painter of Boston, entered in his accounts under the heading “Paul Revere Silversmith” a charge of 6s. ($1.00) for “painting the backs of Masonick chairs.” Revere was a member of the Lodge of Saint Andrew and may already have become Master. The low charge for painting suggests the chairs were already part of the lodge furniture and were being newly ornamented or merely retouched.
Evidence of a growing interest in ornamental figures on vernacular seating is indicated in notices dating from the mid-to-late 1790s. In 1795 both John Dewitt and Walter MacBride of New York advertised Windsor chairs “japann’d and neatly flowered,” although the nature of their work is uncertain. William Haydon of Philadelphia, described in 1797 as a “Drawing Master from London,” offered “all kinds of ornamental Painting, Flowers, Fruits, &c.,” and soon expanded his services to include chairmaking. From their stand at Wilmington, North Carolina, Vosburgh and Childs advertised “Chairs . . . highly varnished any colour, and ornamented to any pattern.” A New Yorker, Vosburgh probably was only a part-time resident of North Carolina. By 1803 the Baltimore firm of John and Hugh Finlay painted local views on furniture. An expanded selection of ornament two years later included “real Views, Fancy Landscapes, Flowers, Trophies of Music, War, Husbandry, Love, &c.” (see fig. 19). Thomas S. Renshaw carried elements of the Baltimore style with him when he migrated to Chillicothe, Ohio, joined forces with Henry May, and advertised “gilt and plain chairs . . . Bent Backs, Broad Tops with landscapes” (see figs. 12, 33).
Floral ornament is the most common figure on vernacular seating, and craft notices often mention “flowers,” yet there is little record of specific plants (fig. 27) (see also figs. 10, 24). More commonly identified are “fruits,” a term used at Newark, New Jersey, by David Alling, who at times was more specific (see fig. 35). In the mid-1810s his workman, Moses Lyon, stenciled “Peaches” on twelve scroll-back chairs, a “pine apple” on a dozen rosewood-grained chairs, and “Grapes,” some in “Nat[ural] Coll[or],” on the crests of slat-back chairs (see fig. 9). Grapes proved popular. In 1810 the Boston firm of Nolen and Gridley imported assorted fancy chairs from New York, including salmon-colored double-cross-back chairs (see fig. 25) of “Grape Leaf” pattern. During the 1830s, Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, sold “grape bush chairs.” In Pennsylvania, an 1833 appraisal identified half a dozen new “Dining Chairs” ornamented with a “pair [pear] & peach” in Thomas Devor’s shop at Shippensburg. Another shop design, described as a “Bowl patt’n,” likely depicted a container filled with flowers or fruit (fig. 28) (see also fig. 14).
Images of birds and animals captured the attention of several shops. Fancy chairs shipped in 1810 from New York to Nolen and Gridley at Boston contained coquelicot-colored (orange-red) seating with double-cross backs and “Eagle Tops.” Two decades later, half a dozen “Swan Back” chairs (fig. 29) stood in the Pennsylvania shop of Thomas Devor. The same year David Alling of New Jersey delivered “1 doz crown top, ball fret, scroll front” chairs with ornament described as “bird on fret” to the New York firm of Joseph W. Meeks and Company. The single mention of animal decoration in this study identifies a “Squirrell” on three chairs in Thomas Devor’s estate. By coincidence, a design with two squirrels is among those in a copybook executed by Christian M. Nestell in 1811 and 1812, when he was a student at a drawing school in New York (fig. 30).
The vocabulary of ornament grew as craftsmen introduced new subjects for interpretation. The 1810s were particularly productive. The cornucopia, as a single or double motif, usually was accompanied by fruit or floral forms or a combination of the two, as shown in a painted example of New York origin (fig. 31). David Alling of neighboring New Jersey identified this motif in another medium, when describing fancy chairs: “[Bronzing] 12 Wide Tops & Scroll Backs (Cornucopia).” In Vermont Thomas Boynton named two other patterns, when crediting John Patterson with “Ornamenting feathers” (fig. 32) and “shells” (see figs. 15, 18). A shipment of fancy chairs from New York provided Nolen and Gridley of Boston with an opportunity to comment on the degree of elegance possible using simple patterns: one group of chairs was “White and gold [with] double shells and green Tops”; chairs painted coquelicot red had a “gold Grecian Border” in the crest.
Busts of national figures were depicted at times in small medallions incorporated into other ornament on chair backs. The transfer-printed profile of Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) in figure 33 is unusual for its medium. The model for the bust was a terra-cotta bas-relief medallion cast in France in 1777 by Giovanni Battista Nini (1717–1786). Naval figures also caught the interest of the American public, particularly during the War of 1812 and immediately thereafter. Stephen Decatur (1779–1820) distinguished himself by capturing the British vessel Macedonian in October 1812, and patriotic fervor was still at a high pitch in 1815, when David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, credited Moses Lyon with decorating “12 Bronzed Double Cross (Decaturs).”
Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), another hero of the War of 1812, achieved acclaim by routing the British on land at the battle of New Orleans. Prints of Jackson on horseback celebrated the event; however, the general’s portrait bust on seating furniture dates after he left the office of president of the United States. In 1843 Nelson Talcott of Portage County, Ohio, noted the sale of “1 Set Jackson chairs.” Two decades earlier, when the young nation began preparations to celebrate fifty years of independence, the U.S. Congress invited the marquis de Lafayette to be the nation’s guest in a grand tour of the country for whose freedom he had fought. Lafayette was wined, dined, and feted in all twenty-four states. Souvenirs abounded—gloves, hats, ribbons, and more. Chairs were specially ordered to celebrate the great man’s visit. Still in existence are several cane-seat fancy chairs of Baltimore origin, presumably used there in 1824 at a banquet in Lafayette’s honor. The general’s bust centered in the crest is surrounded by lavish gilding of neoclassical design.
Evidence of bronze decoration on vernacular seating furniture before 1810 is rare. Nolen and Gridley’s Boston advertisement of December 1810 for three hundred fancy chairs imported from New York is the earliest record noted for bronzework in American chairmaking. Many chairs offered by the firm were gilded; however, one group in the double-cross-back pattern had “Bronzed Tops.” The term “bronzed” without explanation denotes general understanding of its meaning, although the medium was perhaps better known to the public at this date through imported fancy seating from England. Sheraton described the material in painted bronzework without providing a direct sense of its use on furniture: “BRONZE . . . denotes a prepared colour, wherewith to imitate bronze. There are two sorts, the red bronze, and the yellow or golden. The latter is made solely of copper dust, which must be the finest and brightest that can be got; the former is made of the same, with the addition of a little . . . red ochre well pulverized. Both these bronzes are laid on with varnish.”
Reinforcing the hypothesis that bronzework on American vernacular seating, whether painted or stenciled, was unknown much before 1810 are earlier notices of craftsmen. Samuel J. Tuck of Boston supplemented his chairmaking business by importing “PAINTS and COLOURS” from London in 1800 and later. He stocked metal leaf for work in gold, silver, brass, and white metal, although he made no mention of importing metallic powders. In 1808 Henry Beck of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, advertised “fancy gilt chairs of the newest fashion,” followed a year later by Chapman and Merritt of Redding, Connecticut, who sold gold- and silver-gilt fancy chairs at “New-York prices.” Neither shop appears to have offered bronzework. Nor was this type of work noted in 1809 by William Challen, a fancy chairmaker of London background who had worked for more than a decade in New York, when he resettled at Lexington, Kentucky, and offered a complete color range of fancy chairs ornamented in gold leaf.
The records of Stephen Girard, a Philadelphia merchant, and David Alling, a Newark, New Jersey, chairmaker, describe the rise in marketing bronzed chairs by the mid-1810s. Fancy chairs loaded on Girard’s ship Montesque in December 1810 for sale in South America comprised a range of colors with gilt decoration. A similar cargo placed on the North America in July 1816 for sale in the Far East was augmented by “rosewood” seating in “Bronze.” In the mid-1810s Alling’s painter, Moses Lyon, bronzed fancy seating with ornament such as flowers, fruits (grapes, peaches), portrait busts, and cornucopias on ground colors of green, nankeen (pale yellow), white, rosewood, and satinwood, the patterns including ball-, slat-, and scroll-backs. Lyon likely utilized shaded metallic powders. A New York ball-back Windsor of the 1810s with hand-painted cornucopias epitomizes chairmaking at the style center that influenced Alling’s work (see fig. 31). The bow and outer crest leaves are painted in bronze, complemented by small leaves on the spindles and front legs.
Bronze ornament of the late 1810s introduced the use of stencils, although craftsmen’s accounts do not distinguish between painted bronzework and ornament utilizing patterns cut from stiff paper to produce shaded figures by manipulating metallic powders. Early stencil use is documented in a newspaper notice of 1819 by Rufus E. Shapley of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who advertised chairs “bronzed with FRUIT PATTERNS” and compared the work with that made in New York and Philadelphia. Stencils were also used in other ways. In March 1819 Hugh Finlay, a Baltimore manufacturer of painted furniture, sent Humberston Skipwith a bill for a pair of card tables to furnish his neoclassical plantation house at Prestwould near Clarksville, Virginia. The neoclassical X-base tables have gilded decoration on a grained rosewood ground and a stenciled panel of fruit and foliage on the apron executed in painted polychrome colors rather than metallic powders.
Some notices of the 1830s and 1840s likely identify stencilwork. At Baltimore Edward Needles offered chairs with “Landscape and Bronzed Tops,” probably describing painted versus stenciled work. Bronzed chairs sold at the shops of Philemon Robbins and Isaac Wright at Hartford, Connecticut, had roll tops and rush or cane seats, whereas David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, offered bronzed crown-top chairs. The mid-back slats or crown-style crests of these chairs offered good surfaces for stenciled decoration. Of contemporary date is a set of ball-back chairs in “Drab” color enriched with “bronz bands” sold to a client at West Chester, Pennsylvania, by Joseph Jones. Simple painted metallic ornament also is suggested in a bill from Septimus Claypoole to the owners of the Baltimore Exchange Hotel for “painting 104 cane Chairs finished in Bronze.”
References in craftsmen’s records to gilding chairs outnumber those to bronzing. Actual use of gilding ranged from modest accents to lavish embellishments—probably the “Rich gilt” and “half rich gilt” identified in the 1830s in the records of Isaac Wright and Philemon Robbins at their Hartford, Connecticut, shops. An early reference to the decorative technique occurs in the accounts of Daniel Rea Jr., an ornamental painter of Boston, who in 1794 accommodated Andrew Craigie, Esq., of Cambridge by “Paint’g six Chamber Chairs ornamented with Gold.” As used here, the word “chamber” is uncertain, as the term usually identified a bedroom, a space frequently furnished with modest or outmoded seating furniture. Perhaps Craigie’s chairs were for a judge’s chamber.
Early references to gilding identify fancy chairs, the upscale painted or japanned seating introduced from England in the late 1780s. The Boston reference is followed in records by “8 Japan Black & Gold Chair[s]” bought at New York in 1799 by Stephen Arnold of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Joshua Ward’s “Six bamboo Chairs gilt & varnished” supplied by Robert Cowan of Salem, Massachusetts, followed in 1803 at $3.00 the chair. Other early references describe fancy seating in household use. In Samuel P. Broome’s estate at Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania, in 1806 a dozen green-and-gold chairs were divided between the front entry hall and the northwest parlor. The nine parlor chairs had “horse hair Cushions” and “Chintz covers.” Lydia Pinkham’s estate itemized in 1810 on Nantucket Island included “6 white gilt Table Chairs” valued at $3.00 apiece with two matching armchairs, each appraised at $4.00, the valuations indicating almost new seating. Use of fancy seating for dining is unusual, since that function generally was reserved for the sturdier Windsor.
To complement local business, many early fancy-chairmakers pursued a broader domestic market. New York craftsmen were particularly active in the early 1800s, among them William Palmer, a fancy-seating specialist. Locally, Palmer supplied a Mr. Cox and merchant Nicholas Low with white-and-gold fancy chairs. At $8.00 apiece, Low’s elegant chairs were for drawing-room use. In an 1802 notice Palmer also identified his “highly finished black and gold . . . Fancy Chairs, with cane and rush bottoms” (see fig. 15), the same color seating he sold Stephen Arnold of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and sent across New York Bay to a Mr. Bell at Perth Amboy, New Jersey. David Alling, a chairmaker of neighboring Newark, was a supplier of Palmer until he raised the craftsman’s ire by requesting receipts for their business transactions. Charles Cluss, another New York craftsman associated with gilded seating, sent two dozen “Fancy gilt chairs” in 1808 to William Arnold of the East Greenwich family, and William Buttre supplied Oliver Wolcott, a Connecticut client, in 1810 (fig. 34). Alexander Patterson’s patrons included Gerrit Wessel Van Schaick of Albany, who in 1814 paid $5.25 apiece for a dozen yellow-and-gilt chairs and a packing charge of $1.50 to ship them up the Hudson River on the sloop Columbia. Southern notices document a large trade in gilded fancy and Windsor chairs shipped from New York through middlemen to Charleston and Raleigh in the Carolinas, although the New York suppliers are unknown. The New York trade in gilded chairs also flowed north to Nolen and Gridley at Boston.
Philadelphia craftsmen were equally active in distributing gilded furniture. Black-and-gold fancy seating was sold at Charleston, South Carolina. In 1801 Salem, Massachusetts, merchant John Derby engaged John Stille Jr., merchant-factor of Philadelphia, to acquire two sets of gilded chairs, half a dozen in black and a like number in green. The chairs were put up in six “packs” for shipping, each pack containing a pair of chairs. Surfaces were wrapped with haybands or cloth and each pair of chairs nested seat-to-seat and was enclosed in a woven mat secured with cord. In 1815 Zaccheus Collins, a Philadelphia merchant, used mats to pack a dozen fancy chairs for shipment to his brother-in-law Richard Bland Lee of Virginia, having acquired the chairs from William H. Stewart. Three years later the same shop, then a partnership between Stewart and William Haydon, furnished “Six Urn spindle Black & Gold Chairs” locally at $4.50 apiece to James J. Skerrett, who earlier had acquired “8 Chairs Blue and Gilt” from James Mitchell, paying $5.00 the chair.
Stephen Girard also patronized Mitchell, acquiring in 1809 six black-and-gold side chairs and two armchairs, although whether for his own use or his business enterprises is not indicated. The merchant’s further purchases of gilt chairs from unknown shops describe the colors available. For a voyage of the ship Montesque in December 1810, Girard acquired eighteen brown-and-gilt fancy side chairs and two armchairs, with an additional one dozen red-gilt chairs. The supercargo disposed of the chairs at Valparaiso, Chile, en route to China. A cargo on Girard’s ship North America in July 1816 contained seventy-two gilded chairs with rosewood grounds, one group having “Scrowl backs.” The chairs, with other seating furniture, were destined for Port Louis on the Isle of France (Mauritius) in the Indian Ocean.
Gilded chairs were an attractive product to other entrepreneurs, whether merchants or craftsmen, for foreign and domestic markets. Early in 1800 merchants Brown and Ives of Providence, Rhode Island, prepared for a voyage to Buenos Aires, Argentina. When the George and Mary cleared port in April, it carried a large furniture cargo worth $2,800, of which $1,000 represented fancy and Windsor seating, including gilded fancy chairs of both white and brown ground. Brown and Ives bypassed local suppliers and acquired their furniture in New York, as per payment for “Truckage [of] furniture to the packet in New York,” labor, and freight on the packet from New York to Providence. “Matting chairs” cost $10.00, although with 666 chairs on board, the fee covered mats for only expensive seating, such as the gilded chairs.
As the chair trade expanded, business-oriented craftsmen saw the advantages in making quantities of chairs available to shippers “at short notice” and appropriately packaged. Business was particularly brisk by the 1820s, when Samuel G. Bodge of Providence advertised “400 Chairs prepared purposely for shipping, suitable for the West India or South American markets, and will be painted to suit the purchaser.” Shipping preparations included matting some chairs, although quantity dealers, like Bodge, also offered “knock-downs,” or disassembled chairs packed in cases for assembly at their destination. Cases were easier to handle and took less shipping space, making them cheaper to transport. Levi Stillman of New Haven, Connecticut, utilized boxes for furniture when shipping nineteen containers in 1826 to associate Horace A. Augur at Lima, Peru. Chairs, some gilded, formed the bulk of the furniture and were shipped assembled, the surfaces protected by most of the 517 3/4 yards of cotton sheeting listed on the invoice. The item “Freight of Boxes to New York” sheds further light on travel arrangements. The furniture was transferred to the brig Rio at New York for the voyage to South America. Boxes also figured in the overland transport of furniture, as recorded by Thomas Boynton of Windsor, Vermont. In 1818 Robert Davis paid $2.50 apiece for “12 gilt f[an]cy Bb [bent-back] Chairs,” with an additional $2.00 for “Boxing ditto” and $1.50 for “Transportation of d[itt]o to Hanover,” New Hampshire.
A large domestic market for David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, was the American South, where he made four consignments of Windsor and fancy chairs to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans in 1819–1820. Of the 868 items shipped, most were side chairs supplemented by 14 rockers and 38 high and low chairs for children. Prices ranged from $1.50 to $7.00 an item. Although Alling did not identify the packaging, he provided a clue indicating that the furniture was boxed. The left margins of the invoices bear consecutive numbers next to the merchandise, the usual method of identifying shipping containers. Reinforcing the idea that the chairs were packed is the high value of the chairs. Those with gilded accents varied in structure: slat-backs, ball-backs (see fig. 31), and oval or diamond fret-backs (see fig. 13); specialty spindles were shaved flat and shaped with ovals, urns, or arrows (see figs. 18, 31), or turned to simulate organ pipes (see fig. 26); front stretchers were diamond- or slat-shaped (see figs. 13, 23) or cylindrical. Colors included rosewood and maple graining, green, yellow, and red augmented by white, coquelicot, brown, drab, nankeen, and cane.
By 1811 shops everywhere sold painted seating furniture enriched with gilt decoration. The urban centers of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore probably led the way, although the migration of craftsmen and the coastal and overland trade in chairs carried the fashion far and wide—from Vermont to West Virginia, from Georgia to Kentucky. Thomas Sheraton and Rufus Porter, among other authors, commented on the mechanics of chair gilding. Of the two methods, oil gilding was more suitable than water gilding for chair work because it was more durable.
Gilding occurred after a chair was painted or japanned. The areas to be gilded were brushed over with japanner’s gold size or, as preferred by Porter, dilute copal varnish, to produce a quick-drying, tacky surface to secure the gold (or silver) leaf. Thomas Boynton of Vermont noted the process in 1815 in crediting John Patterson with “Sising and gilding 19 fancy chairs.” As most gilded chair ornament formed narrow bands, or “fillets,” Sheraton recommended cutting the fillets on a gilder’s cushion, the gold leaf sandwiched between blank sheets from a book of leaf and one sheet retained to transfer the gold to the work. In 1827 James Gere of Connecticut recorded the cost of a “Book Gold Leaf” as 3s. (50¢). Sheraton advised making a complete application of leaf to a chair before using a cotton cloth to smooth the work and press the thin metal into the tacky sizing. Irregularities at the edges of the gilding could be “trimmed” using a slim brush and the ground color. Metallic ornament, especially silver leaf, could be tinted with transparent color or lacquer. Both Sheraton and Porter suggested “the gold in chair work ought to be varnished to secure it, and the best varnish for this purpose is copal.”
Thomas Sheraton advocated preserving rush-woven seats in fancy furniture by painting the material, which hardened the fibers. Without some type of coating, rush dried out over time and became brittle. When brittle, the seats were vulnerable even to the normal pressures of sitting and soon collapsed, making a chair unfit for use until the seat was replaced. At times, frugal householders renewed the paint on their chair seats with a fresh coat, as when Henry Mason paid William G. Beesley of Salem, New Jersey, in 1831 for “varnishing 14 fancy Chairs [and] painting the seats of the same.”
Records identify white, as named by Sheraton, and yellow as the paint colors preferred for coating rush seats. White probably was more common. Judge Bruce, a client of Philemon Robbins at Hartford, Connecticut, likely deposited most of his household seating with the craftsman in 1835, when he paid $1.80 for “painting 24 chair seats white.” Some householders elected to do the work themselves, as indicated by Charles Dyer, who in 1824 purchased “white Paint for Cheir Seets” at 25¢ from Elizur Barnes of Middletown. Two years earlier Barnes recorded a job of “Painting 8 Seats yellow.” William Beesley of New Jersey provided some idea of the amount of paint needed to coat the seats of a set of chairs, when he charged a customer 19¢ for “1 lb yellow for Chair seats.”
References to Windsor chairs painted in two colors pose problems. Unless seats, or “bottoms,” are named as one color, the second color likely identified ornament—pinstripes, bands, or figures. Two probate inventories of New York origin contain illustrative examples. In 1813 appraisers listed “5 Yellow & Green chairs” and “5 Yellow & White D[itt]o” in the home of Ezra Hounsfield. What did the second color in each entry represent—seats or ornament? A tentative answer can be found in an item from the estate of Whitehead Fish, cashier of the Merchants’ Bank in the city: “14 White & Green fancy chairs.” White was the color on the wood, and green probably was the color of the decoration, as there is no evidence of the use of dark paint on rush seats. Greater clarity occurs in a record from Salem, Massachusetts, where Richard Austin made chairs for the export business of Elijah and Jacob Sanderson. One item reads, “6 White [Chairs] Stript [striped] Green.” References to two-color chairs without further explanation probably identify surface coats and ornament.
The practice of painting Windsor chair seats in a color contrasting with that of the rest of the chair was of limited duration, ranging from about the mid-1790s into the next decade. A record of 1808 made by Stephanus Knight of Enfield, Connecticut, identifies refurbished work in describing “Painting 5 Chares green and Bottoms Black.” Two-color references in probate records are noted as late as 1826, when the home of William Chappel of Lyme contained “1/2 Doz Green, Chocolate bottom windsor Chairs,” probably purchased about two decades earlier. Some early references also need interpretation. The “6 Green [Chairs] with Red Bottoms” in the Nantucket inventory of Oliver Spencer in 1794 may have had stuffed bottoms with cloth covers rather than painted seats. This expensive option in Windsor seating was current from the 1780s through the 1790s. The vogue for painting Windsor chair seats in a contrasting color imitated stuffed work at a modest cost.
Limited information prevents definite assessment of the popularity of particular two-color paint combinations. A separate analysis of seat and back colors reveals that seats usually were painted in dark colors—mahogany favored, black a second choice. Yellow was chosen for backs and bases, followed by green. Amos D. Allen’s customers at Windham, Connecticut, preferred mahogany-colored seats combined with backs of yellow, green, or blue. A black bottom with a green back was another option. A similar set of chairs “ornamented with yellow” disappeared in 1804 from the auction room of Christian and Paxton at New York. Of bright color were “6 [Cream Colored chairs] with green bottom[s], striped” sold by Titus Preston at Wallingford. David Russell of Winchester, Virginia, painted chairs cream color with mahogany bottoms besides retailing two uncommon selections—“mazarine blue with mahogany bottoms” and pale blue with yellow seats.
SPECIALIZED SEATING FORMS
Minor markets existed for seating furniture designed to fill specialized needs not met by standard adult side and armchairs. Rocking chairs, settees, stools, and children’s seating were the principal forms. Although each could be purchased independent of other furnishings, rocking chairs, settees, and children’s furniture often were acquired as part of a suite of seating furniture of similar pattern, surface color, and decoration. Of these named forms, the rocking chair was the most common.
The rocking chair was part of American furniture production by the 1730s, although it was uncommon until the 1790s, when Windsor chairs with rockers began to supplement common rush-bottom examples. Interest in the form increased steadily after 1800 until by the 1820s the furniture industry was poised to install at least one rocking chair in every domestic household (fig. 35).
During the 1740s, Solomon Fussell, a chairmaker of Philadelphia, had occasional calls for rush-bottom rocking chairs, the surfaces either black or “white” (“in the wood,” or without paint). White chairs were about a shilling less than those with paint. Later, in 1774, William Barker of Providence, Rhode Island, recorded “mend[ing] & Colloring [a] rocking chare” with a rush seat. “Coloring” likely identified a coating of pigment in size, a gelatinous solution. Amos D. Allen’s records of the 1790s at Windham, Connecticut, serve to identify the introduction of the Windsor rocking chair, the cost twice or more that of Fussell’s woven-bottom rockers.
Color choices for Windsor rocking chairs paralleled those for standard seating. Usually named are green, yellow, browns, and imitation wood grounds. Black was chosen occasionally; white probably was uncommon. Imitation maple and rosewood were popular grained surfaces, although imitation satinwood and oak are named. Regarding ornamental maple, the shop inventory of Charles Riley of Philadelphia makes a cogent comparison. The appraised value of an “Imitation [bird’s eye Rocking Chair]” was $2.25, whereas that of a true “bird eye Rocking chair” was $6.75. At Hartford, Connecticut, Philemon Robbins introduced “quaker” gray to rocking chairs in the mid-1830s, as he did on occasion to standard seating. A special-order “quaker” rocker made in 1834 had a “maple top” of natural finish. Other records hint that by the second quarter of the century chairmakers with large businesses stockpiled a few specialized chairs without finish or ornament to be completed when sold. For example, in 1836 after Elijah Ware took over William G. Beesley’s shop at Salem, New Jersey, Beesley recorded “making & priming a highback Rocking Chr” for Ware. Chairmakers sometimes sold rocking chairs without finish to professional painters and handymen. In 1842 D. Burton purchased “1 L[arge] R[ocking] chair in the white” for $2.50 from Henry F. Dewey of Bennington, Vermont, and covered his debt by “painting 9 cott[age] Chr.” When Launcelot Jenkins, probably a handyman, acquired a rocker at Philadelphia from Charles C. Robinson in 1815, he purchased paint to finish it, his total out-of-pocket expenses being $2.25.
Rocking chairs were ornamented in fashions similar to standard seating. Fairly basic were tipping with pinstripes and striping with bands. Gilding enhanced some surfaces, and Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, at times employed “rich gilt” decoration. Bronzing introduced painted or stenciled metallic ornament. Other records identify a “swan” and a “squirrel” as featured motifs. Nelson Talcott of Ohio included a portrait bust of Andrew Jackson in the crest of a rocking chair.
Records at times identify structural features of the rocking chair, some of a special nature. Like those on standard seating, crests were principally of three types: a plain or fancy slat mounted between the back posts; a rectangular or rounded-end tablet mounted in mortise-and-tenon or rabbet joints at the tops of the back posts; and a turned “roll top” framed in rabbet joints at the post tips. Tall backs were common in the rocking chair, although the descriptive language might vary from place to place. In 1815 Thomas Boynton recorded “painting a high top rocking chair” at Windsor, Vermont, whereas William Beesley of Salem, New Jersey, identified similar work as “painting a high back Rocking Chair.” Many rocking-chair seats imitated those in standard seating, often with increased dimensions. Almost exclusive to the rocking chair was a Boston-style seat with an ogee curve in the side profile, although its production was not limited to Boston or even to New England. Two alternative terms identify the same seat. When working for Franklin Howe, Thomas Boynton painted, ornamented, and varnished “55 raised seat rocking chairs” for which he was paid 50¢ apiece. The “rise” of the Boston seat occurs at the back and consists of several shaped and stacked blocks of wood. At Hartford, Connecticut, Philemon Robbins recorded a credit of $12.00 in the account of Sullivan Hill, a supplier who constructed “6 painted scroll seat Rocking Chairs.” The term “scroll” pinpoints the half roll fixed to the underside of the rounded seat front to form a full scroll.
Retail prices for rocking chairs varied widely, depending on date of construction, structural pattern, ornamentation, and special features, although the data can be reasonably qualified. Priced under $1.00 were “common” chairs with rush seats, slat backs, and plain painted surfaces, dating principally in the eighteenth century. Chairs in the $1.00 to $1.99 range were a step up in design and surface and represented the lower of the two common price groups. Rocking chairs in the second large group, priced from $2.00 to just under $3.00, were made for a more affluent market. Of the few chairs priced over $3.00, the record provides insights. In 1834 Philemon Robbins of Hartford, Connecticut, sold a “quaker [colored] large rocking chair” for $3.50 to E. Hooker, Esq., of Farmington. There followed a chair of similar color for Adam Miner priced at $4.00 and described as “First rate.” A chair sold early in the century by Richard Austin of Salem, Massachusetts, to cabinetmaker Jacob Sanderson for $3.83 had simulated bamboo turnings “With Rockers [and] Gold leaf.” Gilding enhanced two imitation rosewood sewing chairs (with rockers), each priced at $3.50, shipped in 1820 by David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans. The chairs, however handsome, apparently were no match for two rockers priced at $11.00 apiece. In 1840 Alling recorded the sale to Frederick T. Frelinghuysen Jr., Esq., of a “black . . . cane b[a]ck & seat rock[ing] chr.” Earlier, Philemon Robbins credited Horace Lee, a Springfield, Massachusetts, supplier, for delivery of a “Large green Can[e]d R[ocking] chair” to Hartford for commission sale. To achieve their high prices, both chairs had to have been substantially ornamented and gilded.
Records identify two specialized rockers—the nurse, or nursing, chair and the sewing chair. Both chairs could be armless on occasion. Short legs, placing seats lower to the floor, appeared at times, and seats in sewing chairs could be of large size. Solomon Fussell listed “nurse” chairs in his Philadelphia accounts in the 1740s, whereas chairs dedicated to sewing were unnamed before the early nineteenth century. Several seating materials occur, as noted in sewing-chair records. David Alling of New Jersey identified wooden seats in the item “[Tipping] 5 Windsor Sewing Chs” (1816) and rush seats in “matting, moulding, p[ain]t’g, gilding, & bronzing sewing Chr” (1840). Standing in Alling’s shop at his death were “3 Rosewood [cane seat] Sewing chairs.”
Like other seating, the rocking chair required periodic repair and refurbishing. By far the most common call was for a fresh coat of paint. Records at times note the application of ornament, although a finish coat of varnish is seldom mentioned. Both tasks may have been part of the general painting process. The specifics of repair work are seldom identified, with the exception of replacing rockers or adding them to the bottoms of stationary chairs. Rush-bottom chairs required periodic seat replacement, and cased seats at times needed new “molding” pieces painted to match the ground color of the chair. Some newly rushed seats were painted to better preserve them.
Unlike the rocker, which after 1790 frequently was a wooden-bottom chair, settee construction employed wood, rush, or cane for the seat. Wood was the most durable and cane the most expensive. Of the specialized seating forms, the settee was most likely to be framed and purchased as part of a suite of furniture containing a set of side chairs or side chairs and armchairs.
Popular colors for the settee were those prominent in the rocking chair, although variants within color groups are more frequent in records naming the settee. Settees of verdigris green complemented eighteenth-century chairs of similar color. Dark olive was a nineteenth-century option, as itemized in the 1842 Philadelphia shop inventory of Charles Riley. Yellow, a popular choice, included pale variants. Joseph Burden of Philadelphia sold “cane coulered” chairs with settees to match to Stephen Girard in 1810 for his overseas trade, and the pale hue was still viable for settees three decades later, as recorded in Riley’s inventory. “Nankeen,” a color named for a cotton textile of pale, light brownish yellow, described the surface of a “sofa,” probably of woven bottom, ornamented by Moses Lyon in 1817 in David Alling’s shop at Newark, New Jersey.
A notice of March 7, 1798, by Hopkins and Charles, Charleston, South Carolina, importers, for Philadelphia Windsor furniture lists chairs and settees in “Mahogany” and “Chocolate” color. Both colors were reddish brown, the mahogany of bright hue, the chocolate a deep, dark shade. The pattern likely was the bow-back current at that date. The “brown” settees sold in 1809 by William Challen of Kentucky probably reflected a continuing use of chocolate color. The “light Colour” settees in Charles Riley’s Philadelphia shop in 1842 were a brownish yellow often equated with drab or stone color (fig. 36). In sharp contrast was Riley’s settee of “blossom” color, a pink with a bluish purple cast. Equally brilliant were coquelicot settees advertised by Challen.
Black probably was uncommon for either Windsor or fancy furniture before 1800. By 1807 and 1808, however, public notices at Charleston, South Carolina, describe a popular market for chairs and settees of this color imported from Philadelphia and New York. There followed in 1810 work for Stephen Girard of Philadelphia by an unnamed chairmaker who produced black chairs and settees for the merchant’s South American trade. Black furniture, in particular, looked well enhanced with gold, a fashion William Challen carried with him when he migrated from New York to Kentucky. The chairmaker’s fancy production in the “West” also included white seating enriched with gold, which, compared with black, had an early introduction in the market. In 1793 appraisers listed “1 Round Top Settee painted white” (a sack-back or bow-back Windsor) in the Philadelphia estate of chairmaker John Lambert, victim of a yellow fever epidemic in the city. White again was chosen two years later by General Henry Knox, when he ordered a large suite of “Oval Back’d” furniture in the city from William Cox, comprising thirty-six side chairs, thirty-six armchairs, four long settees, and two short settees. The armchairs and settees had mahogany arms in a natural finish.
David Alling of New Jersey credited Moses Lyon in 1817 with “Graining 1 Sofa.” By 1818 Sass and Gready, merchants of Charleston, South Carolina, identified “Cane and Rush Seat Fancy CHAIRS and SETTEES, Rosewood colors” in one of many advertisements. Rosewood graining was still a viable settee finish in 1842, when appraisers listed the contents of Charles Riley’s shop at Philadelphia. Supplementing this furniture were several “Imitation Maple” settees.
When Silas Cheney of Litchfield, Connecticut, undertook a refurbishing job for Oliver Wolcott in 1815, he identified and classified the project’s scope: “Painting & gilding Settee Euquel to 5 Chairs,” the charge being $3.54. Settees “richly ornamented” with metallic leaf were widely available soon after 1800, not merely in urban and rural centers of the East but in the “West” at Lexington, Kentucky, where William Challen offered gilded ornament by 1809. Martin Kearns of Martinsburg, (West) Virginia, hinted in 1811 that both a customer’s taste and pocketbook could be accommodated, when advertising “Windsor Chairs, Settees . . . finished plainly, or elegantly varnished and ornamented with gold and silver leaf.” Bronzing, applied as paint or as a powder in stencilwork, offered another option in metallic decoration. Moses Lyon, who worked occasionally as a painter and ornamenter for David Alling at Newark, New Jersey, in the mid-1810s, bronzed both woven-bottom “Sofas” and wooden-bottom “Settees” framed in a variety of patterns and painted in various colors. Lyon provided alternative ornament by “tipping,” or pinstriping, the long seats. At Middletown, Connecticut, the accounts of Elizur Barnes indicate that the craftsman spent almost two days in August 1822 “Stripping [striping] Sophas,” judging by the $2.00 charge.
Because long seats, such as settees and sofas, were made to accompany sets of chairs, their decoration was similar, although few references to ornament name the long seat. David Alling identified a dozen bronzed chairs and a sofa in a “Fruit” pattern. John and Hugh Finlay, painted furniture specialists of Baltimore, described a variety of ornament for chairs and long seats more typical of high-end than common furniture: “real Views, Fancy Landscapes, Flowers, Trophies of Music, War, Husbandry, Love, &c.” Identification of structural design is somewhat more common. Earliest are patterns produced in the 1790s at Philadelphia. John Lambert framed a “Round Top Settee,” identifying a sack- or bow-back Windsor, and William Cox constructed “Oval Back’d,” or bow-back, settees. Several craftsmen identified bamboowork, whose creases simulate the character of the tropical plant. William Dutilh, a Philadelphia merchant, ventured seating of this type in 1800: “an elegant sett of 12 bamboo chairs ornamented and highly finished, 2 ditto armchairs . . . and two settees ditto.” Other patterns are of later date. David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, whose work paralleled that of New York, noted special turned work of the mid-1810s in identifying a Windsor settee with “Organ Spindles,” the short sticks of the lower back simulating the pipes of an organ in their rounded tops and sharply tapered bodies (see fig. 26). Settee styles from other shops included the slat-back, double-cross back, and ball-back patterns. The “Baltimore”-style tablet top was still current in 1842, when appraisers listed the contents of Charles Riley’s Philadelphia shop.
The price of a vernacular settee was substantial, even if the structure was plain and the ornament minimal. Retail prices might vary from $5.00 to $15.00, reflecting differences in pattern, size, and decoration. Henry Wilder Miller, entrepreneur-owner of a chair factory in the 1820s at Worcester, Massachusetts, provided a few general insights into production costs and retail prices for settees, suggesting a base for figuring a hypothetical profit range in merchandising this form. Miller obtained most of his furniture in the wood from area suppliers. Factory workmen, principally Smith Kendall, Miller’s brother-in-law, framed stock as necessary but spent the majority of their time painting and ornamenting furniture for direct sale or distribution to retailers. In June 1827 Miller paid $1.66 apiece for “2 Unpainted Settees” from supplier W. and S. Barber. David Partridge earlier deposited two frames at the factory priced individually at $1.25, the same price recorded for painting a settee. A further account describes a job of “ornamenting 1 Settee” at a cost of 42¢ to the client. Miller’s combined charge of $1.67 for painting and ornamenting a settee was considerably less than the $3.54 recorded by Silas Cheney at Litchfield, Connecticut, a few years earlier. However, Cheney’s work involved gilding, an expensive process because of labor and material. With the complete cost of a settee at Miller’s factory tallied at either $2.92 or $3.34, and a retail price quoted at $5.00 in one instance, the entrepreneur might realize a 50 to 71 percent profit for the sale of this form.
Although stools of one type or another were relatively common in early households, indications of their surface finishes are elusive. Most stools had wooden tops or seats, as woven fibers were less practical in meeting the sometimes rugged use of this form. Records describe stools of several heights, either directly or by inference, and they occasionally identify stools of specialized function.
Crickets, or low stools, had several uses (fig. 37). They served as seats for small children, as footrests to elevate the feet above cold drafts at floor level, and as low platforms for standing or extending one’s reach. Within this frame of function, surface refurbishing was a principal call, with repair work perhaps less in demand. Paint was the most common surface coating, and in 1800 Daniel Rea Jr., an ornamental painter of Boston, recorded “Painting a cricket green.” True Currier, a woodworker of Deerfield, New Hampshire, undertook more extensive work in 1834 for Peter Jenness when “putting legs to crickets & painting them.” Charges were in the 30¢ to 40¢ range.
Medium-high stools for use at tables, workbenches, and the like are rarely identified by size, although they form the bulk of general references and provide the most insight into color choices. When William Beekman of New York died in 1795, his counting room included a “green painted square Writing Table” and “3 Stools” probably of similar finish. Other stools duplicated the color, if not the character, of various species of wood. A job that engaged William Gray at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1793 noted as “Painting Stool Seder Colour,” probably only replicated the hue of red cedar, a timber used in case furniture as both a secondary and a primary wood. Work of later date imitated the actual grain of several popular cabinet woods. In 1839 David Alling of Newark, New Jersey, supplied a customer with “18 winsor rosewood stools,” charging 62 1/2¢ apiece. Charles Riley’s shop at Philadelphia held a number of small seats three years later described as eleven “Imitation Maple Stools,” each valued at 62¢. The “27 red seats or stools” at Lewis Bancel’s school for young ladies in lower Manhattan in 1828 may have been a brilliant red poppy color (coquelicot) or merely a dark reddish brown. Of light brownish yellow was the “stone [colored] stool” returned in 1852 to the Otsego County, New York, shop of Chauncey Strong at Laurens.
The absence of finish on a stool opens the door to speculation. In 1837 chairmaker Josiah P. Wilder of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, recorded the purchase of “4 Stools without paint” at 25¢ each by “Miss” Elisa Bachelder. The following year Maria Ryan paid 25¢ for “1/2 lb Blue Paint,” which Wilder’s accounts suggest was made with the pigment Prussian blue. Perhaps the rise in cottage industries of this period encouraged these women to try their hands at basic painting tasks. By the early 1830s, the flourishing chair industry in neighboring Worcester County, Massachusetts, employed almost two hundred women for simple jobs inside and outside the manufactories.
David Alling had calls in the late 1830s at his Newark, New Jersey, facility for high stools, a useful form for business purposes from the eighteenth century. In 1837 the firm of Hay and Agens acquired “1 high winsor stool painted” for $1.12 1/2. The same stool probably was back in Alling’s shop in 1839, when Jonas Agens paid 38¢ for “mending & pting green high stool.” Another client paid the same as Hay and Agens for a tall Windsor stool “stained & varnished.” When Henry W. Miller listed a “White Desk Stool” in his accounts for 1829 at Worcester, Massachusetts, he may have identified a similar stool, one used at the high writing desk common to counting rooms or offices. The low price of 40¢ leaves in doubt whether “white” described paint or bare wood.
Some records describe stools of highly specialized function. During the 1810s and 1820s, Thomas Boynton of Windsor, Vermont, and Henry Wilder Miller of Worcester, Massachusetts, and others identified “painting a Musick Stool,” probably for use at a pianoforte. The cost of repainting varied from 33¢ to $1.00, suggesting that the highest prices included ornamentation. The presence of a long screw mounted on the seat bottom to permit adjusting the height may have been the element that distinguished a music stool from other stools of standard seat height.
CHILDREN'S SEATING FURNITURE
Records identify seating furniture for children (fig. 38) by one of three terms: “childs,” “little,” and “small.” The last-named term, “small,” introduces some ambiguity because it also appears at times to identify a slightly larger chair sometimes called a “youth’s” or “half-size” chair. In still other instances, “small” may describe the lesser in size of two or more adult chairs. A few specialized seats round out the discussion.
Solomon Fussell, a Philadelphia chairmaker of the 1740s, offered a “childs” rush-bottom chair in white, black, or brown. White identified a chair “in the wood” without finish, such as that bought by Benjamin Franklin in 1744 for 2s. 6d. By contrast, the “2 Childrens Green Chairs” bought at New York for 12s. apiece in 1762 by James Beekman likely were Windsor armchairs because when Dinah Jenkins of Nantucket Island died in 1788, her estate contained “one Childs Green Arm’d Chair” valued at 8s. ($1.33). Green also described ornament on “12 little winsor Childrens Chairs brown & Green” sold by David Alling in 1819. Some children’s low chairs in Alling’s New Jersey shop were “tipped” with fine lines or striped with broad bands. At Boston, Thomas Boynton’s records for 1811 note “a childs chair gilt,” the quality reflected in the $1.75 price. Like adult seating, children’s chairs were periodically repaired, refurbished, or reseated.
A reference of 1753 to a “little chare” in William Barker’s Providence, Rhode Island, accounts describes the surface finish as “coloring Black,” that is, pigment suspended in a size base. Unusual because of the color’s rare mention is James Chase’s construction of “1 Little Char painted Blue” in 1799 at Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Several years later, the shop of Daniel and Samuel Proud at Providence filled two orders for a “Littel Green Chair,” probably a Windsor. By the 1830s little chairs painted in drab and dark brownish earth pigments were made by Philemon Robbins at Hartford, Connecticut. Oliver Avery of North Stonington described ornament when making a “little Chair Spriged,” probably in the bamboo Windsor style. The sprigging likely was a narrow vine or grasslike tufts adjacent to creases in the bamboowork. Woven bottoms in little chairs, as recorded in 1822 by Elizur Barnes of Middletown, could be painted for preservation and contrast.
A few records give credence to the word “small” in identifying seats for children. Charles C. Robinson of Philadelphia recorded a “Childs Small Windsor Chair” in 1817, having earlier painted another “small” Windsor. David Alling penned a more cogent description in 1820, when he shipped “10 Small Childrens Chairs Yellow [slats]” from New Jersey to New Orleans. Two “Small Coquelico Ch[air]s” painted in Alling’s shop may have been similar in size. Of alternative surface treatment were thirty-five “Stain’d Small [Chairs Flagg’d],” or rush-bottomed, priced at 20¢ and 25¢ apiece in 1819, when appraisers made an accounting of Benjamin Bass’s shop at Boston.
Craftsmen’s records make note of special seating for children. Prominent is the highchair, also known in records as a “table chair” and a “dining chair.” At Philadelphia, Solomon Fussell recorded “matting and Colouring a table Chair” in 1742, the cost at 1s. 6d. describing a refurbished chair. Later, in 1795, John Letchworth, a local Windsor chairmaker, completed a “Round top table Chair Mahogany colour” of sack- or bow-back pattern for Jonathan Williams at the high price of $2.53. The popular “quaker” gray used for furniture by Philemon Robbins in the mid-1830s at Hartford, Connecticut, covered the surface of at least one “Childs High chair.” A few records identify “childrens dining” chairs with striped ornament. Thomas Boynton of Windsor, Vermont, engaged John Patterson in 1814 to stripe six chairs of this description.
Specialty seats for children included other forms. Dating to 1774 is “a Grien Settee for Miss Nancy” made by William Cox, a Windsor chairmaker of Philadelphia, for Anne Cadwalader (b. 1771), the young daughter of General John and Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader. Some families with young children used a furniture form recorded in 1795 by Job E. Townsend at Newport, Rhode Island: “Painting a Standing stool.” This small baby cage, at times fitted with a seat, was pushed along the floor, with or without wheels, as a child learned to walk. Essential in early childhood was the “small ch[ai]r with hole” (potty chair) noted by David Alling of New Jersey, who painted one in 1836 in imitation maple. Other forms were made for childhood pleasure. Daniel Rea Jr. of Boston charged Samuel Parkman 6s. ($1.00) in 1791, when “paint’g a Childs Rocking Horse.” Producing related movement was a “yellow little chair, role [top] & rocker” that cost 75¢ in 1835 at Philemon Robbins’s Hartford, Connecticut, shop.
As demonstrated throughout this study, a comprehensive investigation of the written evidence of painted surfaces in seating furniture draws from a large body of documents, given the incomplete and sometimes fragmentary nature of original material. In a great measure, those same documents also supply complementary material that provides a framework for interpreting the data in a sociocultural context to illuminate furnishing practices in the home, business enterprise, price structuring, dissemination of products and design, packaging, and the important role of color in daily life.
Advertisement of Samuel M. Dockum and Edmund M. Brown. (New-Hampshire Gazette [Portsmouth], December 11, 1827.)
Slat-back side chair attributed to John Durand (1735–1780) or Samuel Durand I (1738–1829), Milford, Connecticut, 1760–1770. Maple, ash, and poplar; rush. H. 37 5/8", W. 18 7/8", D. 13 1/2. (Courtesy, Stratford Historical Society, Stratford, Connecticut, gift of Miss Martha Miles.) Surface finish not original.
Banister-back side chair, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, area 1760–1800. Maple and ash; rush. H. 40 3/4", W. 19", D. 13 1/4". (Courtesy, Historic New England, Boston, Massachusetts, gift of Joseph W. Hobbs; photo, David Bohl.) Surface paint not original.
Fiddle-back side chair possibly made by John Durand or Samuel Durand I, probably Milford, Connecticut, 1760–1800. Maple; rush. H. 40 3/16", W. 18 1/8", D. 15 1/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware.) Black surface paint over a red primer; possibly original.
Advertisement of James Chestney. (Albany Chronicle [New York], April 10, 1797.)
Slat-back armchair, Delaware Valley, 1750–1775. Maple and hickory; rush. H. 43", W. 24 7/8", D. 20 1/2". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Surface paint not original.
Detail, left arm post of sack-back Windsor armchair, Rhode Island, 1780–1800. White pine (seat) with maple, oak, hickory, and ash. H. 39 9/16", W. 23", D. 16 1/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) An alligatored surface comprising multiple chipped layers of paint and resin. The “Windsor” green visible in chipped areas is the second coat of paint and probably predates 1815. This is the ubiquitous green made from the pigment verdigris, the color dulled owing to deterioration and yellowing of the protective resin coat.
Tall, braced fan-back Windsor armchair branded by Charles Chase (1731–1815), Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1790–1805. White pine (seat) with ash, birch, and oak. H. 42 3/4", W. 27 3/8", D. 20". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Present surface black; original surface verdigris green.
Shaped-tablet-top Windsor side chair with splat, branded by John Swint (act. ca. 1847 and later; chair one of four), Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1847–1855. Yellow poplar (seat). H. 33", W. 18 3/8", D. 14 5/8". (Courtesy, Lancaster.History .org, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint approximating the olive green current by the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
Detail, slat-back Windsor side chair, southeastern central Pennsylvania, 1820–1830. Yellow poplar (seat) with maple. H. 35", W. 17 1/2", D. 15 5/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in bright yellow, the formula either the patent yellow or chrome yellow current in the early nineteenth century.
Slat-back (or triple-back) Windsor side chair branded by Silas Buss (chair one of four), Sterling, Massachusetts, 1820–1830. White pine (seat). H. 34 7/8", W. 16 1/2", D. 15 3/4". (Courtesy, Marblehead Museum and Historical Society, Marblehead, Massachusetts; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in pale yellow termed either “straw” or “cane” color in the early nineteenth century.
Tablet-top Windsor side chair with stenciled identification of Cornelius E. R. Davis (one of six with a settee), Carlisle, Pennsylvania, ca. 1831–1835. Yellow poplar (seat). H. 32 7/8", W. 19 1/4", D. 15 1/8". (Courtesy, Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in cream yellow.
Slat-back (or fret-back) fancy side chair, New York City or possibly central Connecticut, 1810–1820. Woods unknown; rush. Dimensions unknown. (Present location unknown; formerly in an institutional collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in white yellowed by a resin finish. A side chair of identical structure but different decoration has a nineteenth-century history in the Day family of Hartford, Connecticut.
Detail, slat-back (or ball-back) Windsor side chair, Hudson River valley, ca. 1820–1828. Yellow poplar (seat). H. 33 9/16", W. 16 1/4", D. 15". (Courtesy, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York; photo, Winterthur Museum N0025.1954.) Original decoration and surface paint in medium gray.
Slat-back fancy side chair with “Cumberland spindles,” New York City or environs, 1810–1820. Maple, birch, and yellow poplar; rush. H. 35", W. 19", D. 15 3/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in black.
Detail, Philadelphia fan-back Windsor side chair painted mahogany color, from John Lewis Krimmel, Quilting Frolic, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1813. Oil on canvas. 16 7/8" x 22 3/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)
Tablet-top (or fret-back) fancy side chair, southeastern Pennsylvania or Maryland, 1825–1835. Woods unknown; rush. Dimensions unknown. (Present location unknown; formerly in an institutional collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in light stone color (drab).
Detail, slat-back Windsor rocking armchair with “flat sticks” (spindles), southern New Hampshire, 1820–1830. Maple and unidentified woods. H. 31", W. 19 3/8", D. 16 5/8" (seat). (Present location unknown; formerly in a private collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in coquelicot red.
Tablet-top single-cross-back fancy side chair (one of five), Baltimore, Maryland, 1805–1815. Maple, butternut, and black walnut; cane. H. 32 1/2", W. 19", D. 16". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in coquelicot red.
Detail, bow-back Windsor side chair (one of six), Connecticut–Rhode Island border region, ca. 1797–1805. White pine (seat) with birch and ash. H. 38", W. 16 3/4", D. 16 3/16". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Original surface paint in Prussian blue on turned work, spindles, bow, and spindle platform; original “grained” paint on seat top in Venetian red and medium-light umber, with glazes of red and brown forming a looping pattern.
Shaped-slat-back Windsor side chair with flat sticks, northern Worcester County, Massachusetts, 1820–1830. White pine (seat). H. 34 1/8", W. 17 3/8", D. 15 1/4". (Present location unknown; formerly in an institutional collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in grained maple exhibiting a bird’s-eye figure on the crest and a striped figure on the turnings and spindles.
Detail, shaped-tablet-top Windsor side chair with stenciled identification of George Washington Bentley (b. ca. 1814; chair one of four), West Edmeston, New York, 1850–1860. Basswood (seat). H. 34 5/8", W. 15", D. 15". (Courtesy, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York; photo, Winterthur Museum N0256.1959.) Original pinstriping and surface paint in grained rosewood exhibiting a “streaked” figure on the seat, crest, and mid-back slat and a daubed figure on the turnings.
Shaped-tablet-top Windsor side chair with splat and scroll seat, Baltimore, Maryland, or adjacent southern Pennsylvania, 1840–1850. Woods unknown. H. 33 1/4". (Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia.) Original decoration and surface paint in mahogany graining.
Detail, shaped-tablet-top Windsor side chair with splat (one of six), Pennsylvania, 1850–1870. Yellow poplar (seat). H. 32 1/4", W. 18 1/4", D. 14 1/2". (Present location unknown; formerly in a private collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint, probably in satinwood graining.
Detail, trade card of William Buttre (1782–1864), New York City, ca. 1813. Engraving. 5 7/8" x 4 1/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum Library, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.) The scene is a painting room such as that found in a large manufactory producing painted vernacular seating furniture. Note the abundance of windows to admit natural light to the workplace.
Slat-back (or ball-back) Windsor side chair with “organ spindles,” New York City, 1810–1815. Yellow poplar (seat) with maple. H. 32 5/8", W. 17 7/8", D. 15". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in pale blue.
Detail, roll-top Windsor side chair, Philadelphia or eastern Pennsylvania, 1830–1840. Yellow poplar (seat). H. 34 7/8", W. 17 3/8", D. 15 5/16". (Present location unknown; formerly in a private collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in creamy white.
Shaped-tablet-top Windsor side chair with pierced splat and stenciled identification of George Nees (act. 1850 and later), Manheim, Pennsylvania, 1850–1860. Yellow poplar (seat). H. 32 1/4", W. 19 1/2", D. 14 1/4". (Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Donald M. Herr; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in bright green.
Tablet-top fancy side chair, Baltimore, Maryland, 1820–1830. Woods unknown; rush. H. 33 1/2", W. 18 1/2", D. 15 7/8". (Courtesy, Fenimore Art Museum, gift of Stephen C. Clark, Sr.; photo, Winterthur Museum N0372.1955.) Original decoration and surface paint in dark rosewood graining. The paired-swan motif of the chair back was copied from an ornament in plate 21 of Thomas Hope’s Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (London, 1807).
Ornamental design with squirrels from page 12 of a drawing or copy book kept by Christian M. Nestell (1793–1880), when a student at an unknown school in New York City, 1811–1812. Pencil and watercolor on laid paper. (Courtesy, Winterthur Library, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.)
Detail, slat-back (or ball-back) Windsor armchair (one of two), New York City, 1814–1820. Yellow poplar (seat) with maple. H. 34 1/2", W. 19 1/4", D. 16 7/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in yellow.
Ornamental design with feathers from page 79 of the Nestell drawing or copy book. (Courtesy, Winterthur Library, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.)
Detail, slat-back (or fret-back) fancy side chair, New York City, 1815–1825. Woods unknown; cane. Dimensions unknown. (Present location unknown; formerly in an institutional collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in light stone color (drab). The transfer-printed profile of Benjamin Franklin is based on a terracotta medallion cast in France in 1777 by Giovanni Battista Nini.
Printed and inscribed bill from William Buttre of New York City to Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut, December 8, 1810, for a large set of fancy chairs ornamented in gold. (Courtesy, The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.) The text of the billhead enumerates a selection of chair colors and seating forms.
Shaped-slat-back Windsor rocking armchair, southern New Hampshire, 1820–1830. White pine (seat). H. 35", W. 20 1/4", D. 17 7/8" (seat). (Present location unknown; formerly in a private collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in light stone color (drab).
Detail, roll-top Windsor settee with scroll arms, south-central Pennsylvania, 1835–1845. Woods unknown. H. 33 1/8", W. 76 1/2", D. 21". (Present location unknown; formerly in a private collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in light stone color (drab).
Windsor cricket, or low stool, northern New England, 1825–1840. Basswood (top) with birch. H. 7 1/8", W. 13", D. 8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) Original decoration and surface paint in yellow.
Child’s sack-back Windsor armchair, New York City, 1785–1795. Yellow poplar (seat) with maple and oak. H. 25", W. 18", D. 11 3/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) A multilayered surface with coral red on the outside over white over a deteriorated dark color. Given the date and origin of this chair, the original surface paint probably was verdigris green. As demonstrated here, in the absence of an exposed original surface or the presence of a surface cleaned to the bare wood, a surface that retains many layers of paint (and resin) reflecting various surface renewals over time is typical.
Jacob Bigelow, The Useful Arts, 2 vols. (Boston: Thomas H. Webb, 1840), 1: 163–64.
Silas E. Cheney Daybook, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1813–1821, account with Orin Judd, May 18, 1821, Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Connecticut (hereafter LHS).
Advertisements of Joseph Very, Eastern Argus (Portland, Maine), October 28, 1813; George Dame, New-Hampshire Gazette (Portsmouth), March 10, 1807; Reuben Sanborn, Columbian Centinel (Boston), January 1, 1806; anonymous, Columbian Centinel, April 17, 1802; James Always, Weekly Museum (New York), February 28, 1801.
Allen Holcomb Account Book, New Lisbon, New York, 1809–ca. 1828, account with Simon Smith, 1809, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; True Currier Account Book, Deerfield, New Hampshire, 1815–1838, account with Enos Sandborn Jr., April 1828, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Museum Library, Winterthur, Delaware (hereafter DCM); Nathaniel Bangs Account Book, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1788–1799, account with Capt. Oliver Allen, June 1789, DCM.
Joseph Brown Jr., Account Book, Newbury, Massachusetts, 1726–1741, account with Joseph Lowell, May 14, 1741, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts (hereafter PEM); Isaiah Tiffany Account Book, Norwich, Connecticut, 1746–1767, account with Elijah Bliss, August 25, 1756, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford (hereafter CHS); Solomon Fussell Account Book, Philadelphia, 1738–1748, accounts with Joseph Marshall, 1741, Stephen Collins Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (hereafter LC); Jacob Merrill Jr., Ledger, Plymouth, New Hampshire, 1784–1812, account with Daniel Wyatt, August 10, 1797, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord.
Advertisements of Lawrence Allwine, Aurora (Philadelphia), May 3, 1800, and Oliver Goodwin, Times (Charleston, South Carolina), April 7, 1801.
Cheney Daybook, account with Jonathan Buel, October 17, 1820; Christopher Clark, “The Diary of an Apprentice Cabinetmaker: Edward Jenner Carpenter’s ‘Journal,’ 1844–1845,” in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, Mass.: by the Society, 1989), vol. 98, pt. 2 (1988): 335–36; Nelson Talcott Daybook, Nelson and Garrettsville, Ohio, 1839–1848, account with William B. Payne, February 1, 1841, DCM.
Jacob S. Van Tyne Journal, Niles, New York, 1836–1839, entries for May 30 and June 9, 1838, DCM.
Talcott Daybook, account with Sylvester Taylor Jr., October 12, 1840; James Gere Ledger, Groton, Connecticut, 1822–1852, account with John Ashley Willet, September 1824, Connecticut State Library, Hartford (hereafter CSL).
William Lycett Bill to Robert R. Livingston, New York, 1794, Robert R. Livingston Papers, New-York Historical Society, New York (hereafter N-YHS); Benjamin Bass Estate Records, Boston, 1819, Suffolk County Probate Court, Boston (hereafter SCPC).
Advertisements of Vosburgh and Childs, Hall’s Wilmington Gazette (North Carolina), February 9, 1797; Thomas Henning Sr., Lewisburg Chronicle ([West] Virginia), February 12, 1852; Silas Cooper, Republican and Savannah Evening Ledger (Savannah, Georgia), November 9, 1811; and Dockum and Brown, New-Hampshire Gazette, December 11, 1827.
Fussell Account Book; John Durand Account Book, Milford, Connecticut, 1760–1783, Milford Historical Society, Connecticut.
Robert F. Trent, Hearts and Crowns: Folk Chairs of the Connecticut Coast, 1720–1840 (New Haven, Conn.: New Haven Colony Historical Society, 1977), figs. 37, 51–53; Durand Account Book, account with Deacon Joseph Treat, February 5, 1776.
Fussell Account Book, accounts with Abraham Linkcorn, 1743, Richard Tyson, 1741, and William Moss, 1744 and 1748.
The Fussell-Savery connection is discussed in Benno M. Forman, “Delaware Valley ‘Crookt Foot’ and Slat-back Chairs,” Winterthur Portfolio 15, no. 1 (Spring 1980): 46; William Savery Bill to Gen. John Cadwalader, Philadelphia, 1770, Gen. John Cadwalader Section, Cadwalader Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (hereafter HSP); Nicholas B. Wainwright, Colonial Grandeur in Philadelphia: The House and Furniture of General John Cadwalader (Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1964).
Miles Ward Ledger, Salem, Massachusetts, 1717–1753, PEM; John II and Thomas Gaines Account Book, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1725/56–1755, DCM; Tiffany Account Book, miscellaneous accounts, 1755–1756; David Haven Account Book, Framingham, Massachusetts, 1785–1800, DCM; John Baker, lists of goods, 1760 and 1766, as quoted in Joseph K. Ott, “More Notes on Rhode Island Cabinetmakers and Their Work,” Rhode Island History 28, no. 2 (May 1969): 49.
Fussell Account Book, accounts with John Hammer, 1743/44, and Sarah Hogg, 1747.
Ward Ledger, accounts with Thomas Gould, April 11, 1727, David Foster, January 29, 1721/22, and John Low, June 25, 1737; Elisha Hawley Account Book, Ridgefield, Connecticut, 1781–1805, CHS; Jacob Hinsdale Ledger, Harwinton, Connecticut, 1723–1774, account with Elizabeth Hinsdale, April 2, 1728, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (hereafter Yale); Durand Account Book, account with John Sanford, June 14, 1774.
Ward Ledger, 1717–1753; Gaines Account Book, 1725/56–1755; Hinsdale Account Book, 1723–1774; Fussell Account Book, 1738–1748, and account with Isaac Knight Sr., September 27, 1748.
Hezekiah Reynolds, Directions for House and Ship Painting (1812; reprint, Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1978), p. 17; Nathaniel Whittock, The Decorative Painters’ and Glaziers’ Guide (London: Isaac Taylor Hinton, 1827), pp. 9–11.
Advertisements of James Claypoole, Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), June 14, 1750, and John McElwee, Federal Gazette (Philadelphia), May 7, 1800; Kenneth McKenzie Estate Records, New York, 1804, DCM.
Durand Account Book; Trent, Hearts and Crowns, pp. 48–66; Titus Preston Ledger, Wallingford, Connecticut, 1795–1817, account with Cornelius Cook, July 27, 1804, Yale.
Moody Carr Account Book, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, 1800–1815, account with Ezekiel Robinson, October 16, 1800, Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts (hereafter OSV); Estate Records, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1781–1806, Nantucket County Probate Court, Nantucket, Massachusetts (hereafter NCPC); James Chestney Bill to Madame Schuyler, New York, May 14, 1793, Schuyler Papers, New York Public Library (hereafter NYPL).
Gaines Account Book, account with Francis Sayer, August 1730; Fussell Account Book; “Account of the House Furniture of B H Hathorne,” Boston, March 14, 1800, Ward Family Manuscripts, PEM; Mary Pease Estate Records, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1793, NCPC; William Jones Inventory, Birmingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1789, as quoted in Margaret B. Schiffer, Chester County, Pennsylvania, Inventories, 1684–1850 (Exton, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, 1974), p. 328.
John Avery Sr., Estate Records, Preston, Connecticut, 1794, Genealogical Section, CSL; Hawley Account Book, accounts with Thomas Hawley, December 30, 1789, Ebenezer Hawley, January 5, 1793, and Abraham Lockwood, February 20, 1793; John Wheeler Geer Account Book, Preston, Connecticut, 1776–1781, account with John Tyler, July 20, 1781, CHS.
Oliver Moore Account Book, East Granby, Connecticut, 1808–1821, account with Erastus Holcomb, May 15, 1820, CHS; William Barney and Samuel Neil Estate Records, Baltimore, 1774 and 1776, Baltimore County Probate Records, Baltimore, Maryland (hereafter BCPR); Inventories of Thomas Pim, East Caln Township, 1786, and Elijah Funk, Charlestown Township, 1823, Chester County, Pennsylvania, as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, pp. 325–26, 344–45; Samuel Beal Bill to Capt. Nathaniel Kinsman, Boston, May 5, 1824, Kinsman Manuscripts, PEM; James Chapman Estate Records, Ellington, Connecticut, 1838, Genealogical Section, CSL. Blue paint for chairs, especially common rush-bottom examples, appears to have been reasonably popular in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Recorded, in part, are “Six Blew Cheers” in the home of Philip Taylor (1754), a blue armchair owned by Joseph Struk (1805), and “10 Blew Rush Bottom’d Chairs” in the household of James Batten (1811); Philip Yarnall owned a yellow armchair in 1758 (all as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, pp. 104–6).
William Fifield Ledger, Lyme, New Hampshire, 1810–ca. 1826, recipe for “Orange Colour” [ca. 1820], DCM; W. Jones Inventory; Fussell Account Book, accounts with Joseph Wall, 1747 (orange), John Thomas, 1746 (best dyed), and Patrick Ogilby, 1747 (arch back); Daniel Jones Estate Records, Philadelphia, 1766, Register of Wills, City and County of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (hereafter RWP).
John Brown Advertisement, London, April 1730, as quoted in M. Harris and Sons, The English Chair (London: by the authors, 1937), p. 173; John F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time, rev. Willis P. Hazard, 3 vols. (1830; reprint, Philadelphia: Leary, Stuart, 1927), 1: 203n.
James Bentham Advertisement, South Carolina and American General Gazette (Charleston), March 10, 1775; Aaron Lopez Outward Bound Invoice Book, Newport, Rhode Island, 1767–1768, entries for August 21, September 28, and December 24, 1767, and July 20 and November 20, 1768, Newport Historical Society, Rhode Island (hereafter NHS); Stephen Girard Accounts, Philadelphia, 1786–1787, William Cox Bills to Girard, October 1786, November 10, 1786, and September 5, 1787, and Bills of Lading to Girard for schooner Carolina for Haiti, October 14, 1786, brig Kitty for Charleston, South Carolina, November 10, 1786, and brig Kitty for Cape Français, Haiti, April 28 and July 29, 1787, Girard Papers, American Philosophical Society (microfilm; originals, Girard College), Philadelphia.
Samuel Barrett Letter, Boston, April 1, 1779, to Samuel Salisbury at Worcester, Massachusetts, Salisbury Papers, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts; Ebenezer Stone Advertisement, Independent Chronicle (Boston), April 13, 1786; Haven Account Book, account with Isaac Fisher, May 4, 1789; Claypool Advertisement; Obed Faye Paint Recipe, Nantucket, Massachusetts, n.d., sent to Samuel Wing, Sandwich, and Ebenezer Swift Letter, Barnstable, Massachusetts, May 18, 1799, to Samuel Wing, Samuel Wing Papers, OSV.
List of household furnishings, New York, June 1772, the property of Elizabeth Rutgers in the care of Anthony Rutgers, White-Beekman Papers, N-YHS; John Curry Advertisement, South Carolina State Gazette and Timothy and Mason’s Daily Advertiser (Charleston), October 17, 1797, as quoted in Bradford L. Rauschenberg and John Bivins Jr., The Furniture of Charleston, 1680–1820, 3 vols. (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Old Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 2003), 2: 559; Girard Accounts, William Cox Bill to Stephen Girard, Philadelphia, October 12, 1787, Girard Papers; Joseph Stone Bill to William Arnold, East Greenwich, Rhode Island, January 6, 1795, A. C. and R. W. Greene Collection, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence (hereafter RIHS); Daniel Rea Jr., Daybook, Boston, 1789–1793, account with Capt. James Magee, May 10, 1791, and Daybook, 1794–1797, accounts with Braddock Loring, May 15, 1794, and David Townsend, March 25, 1795, Baker Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (hereafter BL).
Andrew Huntington Ledger, Norwich, Connecticut, 1780–1794, account with Ebenezer Tracy Sr., March 29, 1788, Leffingwell Inn, Norwich, Connecticut; Amos D. Allen Order (or Memorandum) Book, Windham, Connecticut, 1796–1803, CHS.
Allen Order Book, accounts with William Wales, February 6, 1802 (black bottoms), and J. Clark, Esq., April 1800 (mahogany-colored bottoms); Stephen Tracy Ledger, Lisbon Township, New London County, Connecticut (and Plainfield, New Hampshire), 1804–1827, account with Joel Hyde, May 9, 1806, privately owned; John Avery Jr., Account Book, Preston, Connecticut, 1780–1814, accounts with Capt. Elijah Tracy, November 22, 1799, and April 26, November 1, and December 23, 1800, and with Elias Woodward, January 2, 1801, Honeyman Blanchard, January 19, 1801, and Daniel Morgan, Esq., February 24, 1801, CHS.
Estate Records, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1781–1810, NCPC.
Ibid., for Oliver Spencer, 1794, Henry Clark, 1801, Jonathan Burnell, 1799, and Peter Coffin, 1800, NCPC.
Elias Hasket Derby Estate Records, Salem, Massachusetts, 1800, Essex County Probate Court, Salem, Massachusetts; Johannah Beekman Estate Records, New York, 1821, DCM; Capt. Jonathan Dalton Estate Records, Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1803, Papers of James Locke, PEM; Daniel Danforth Estate Records, Hartford, Connecticut, 1808, Genealogical Section, CSL.
William Chappel Estate Records, Lyme, Connecticut, 1826, Genealogical Section, CSL; Rufus Porter, “The Art of Painting,” Scientific American 1, no. 6 (October 2, 1845): 2; Eneas Munson Estate Records, New Haven, Connecticut, 1826, Genealogical Section, CSL; Thomas Devor Estate Records, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, 1833, Registry of Probate, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (photocopy courtesy of Merri Lou Schaumann); Gerrit Wessel Van Schaick Estate Records, Albany, New York, 1816, Van Schaick Papers, Gansevoort-Lansing Collection, NYPL; Gen. George Mason Estate Records, Lexington, Virginia, 1797, Registry of Probate, Rockbridge County, Lexington, Virginia.
Ebenezer P. Rose Estate Records, Trenton, New Jersey, 1836, Archives and History Bureau, New Jersey State Library, Trenton; Thomas Sheraton, The Cabinet Dictionary, 2 vols. (1803; reprint, New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972), 2: 248. Several inventories of Chester County, Pennsylvania, origin also itemize sage-colored chairs. Records identify Windsors of this color in the household of Nathan Sharpless in 1833, and that construction probably applies to “8 Sage Coulered Chairs” listed in 1809 in the possession of Mary Rogers, as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, pp. 104, 108.
Charles Riley Estate Records, Philadelphia, 1842, RWP; Porter, “Painting” (October 2, 1845), 2; Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, pp. 10–11.
Samuel Claphamson Advertisement, Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia), January 8, 1785, as quoted in Alfred Coxe Prime, comp., The Arts and Crafts in Philadelphia, Maryland, and South Carolina, 1721–1785 (Philadelphia: Walpole Society, 1929), p. 162; William Challen Advertisement, New-York Gazette and General Advertiser, February 22, 1797, as quoted in Rita Susswein Gottesman, comp., The Arts and Crafts in New York, 1777–1799 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1954), p. 113.
Lambert Hitchcock Estate Records, Unionville, Connecticut, 1852, as quoted in John Tarrant Kenney, The Hitchcock Chair (New York: Clarkson W. Potter, 1971), p. 326; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 424.
Thomas Howard Advertisement, Providence Patriot (Rhode Island), June 29, 1822; David Alling Ledger, Newark, New Jersey, 1815–1818, accounts with painter Moses Lyon, January–March 1816, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark (hereafter NJHS); Nolen and Gridley Advertisement, Columbian Centinel, December 12, 1810.
John Lambert Estate Records, Philadelphia, 1793, RWP.
Allwine Advertisement; Harmon (Herman) Vosburgh Advertisement, American Citizen (New York), June 6, 1804, as quoted in Rita Susswein Gottesman, comp., The Arts and Crafts in New York, 1800–1804 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1965), p. 273; William Palmer Advertisement, Longworth’s New-York Register and City Directory (New York: Thomas Longworth, 1818), advertising section.
James Chase Account Book, Gilmanton, New Hampshire, 1797–1807, account with Reuben Morgan, April 2, 1804, privately owned, as quoted in Charles S. Parsons, “New Hampshire Notes,” Visual Resources Collection, Winterthur Museum Library (hereafter VRC); Allen Order Book, account with Dr. Samuel Lee, August 20, 1800; Samuel Lee Estate Records, Windham, Connecticut, 1815, Genealogical Section, CSL; Solomon Cole Account Book, Glastonbury, Connecticut, 1794–1809, accounts with John Hall, June 9, 1800, widow Hannah Hale, June 23, 1800, and Capt. Moses Forbes, October 28, 1800, CHS; Estate Records, New York, New York, for Charles Ward Apthorpe (merchant), 1797, Alexander S. Gordon (silversmith), 1803, William Walton (lawyer), 1806, Capt. Joseph Dobell (shipmaster), 1811, Peter Coruth (blacksmith), 1812, Ezra Hounsfield (gentleman), 1813, and Thomas Marston (gentleman), 1814, DCM; Daniel Rea Jr., Daybook, 1772–1800, account with Samuel Bradford, Esq., May 18, 1797, and Daybook, 1789–1802, account with Capt. William Williams, March 10, 1801, BL; Ephraim Evans Advertisement, Alexandria Advertiser and Commercial Intelligencer (Virginia), June 12, 1802; Samuel Loomis Estate Records, Saybrook, Connecticut, 1814, Genealogical Section, CSL; Allen Order Book, account with Jonathan M. Young, February 5, 1802.
John Dutch Jr., Bill to John Derby, Salem, Massachusetts, April 1, 1802, Derby Family Papers, PEM; Cole Account Book, accounts with Gideon Hale Jr., December 16, 1803, and Stephen Shipman, May 7, 1805; Allen Order Book, account with Col. T. Dyer, June 20, 1799; Anthony Steel Bill of Lading, Philadelphia, December 1, 1801, Society Miscellaneous Collection, HSP; ship George and Mary Invoice of Cargo, Providence, Rhode Island, April 7, 1810, as quoted in Joseph K. Ott, “Still More Notes on Rhode Island Cabinetmakers and Allied Craftsmen,” Rhode Island History 28, no. 4 (November 1969): 121; David Alling Invoice Book, Newark, New Jersey, 1819–1820, account of chairs shipped to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans, March 13, 1819, NJHS.
Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 424 (recipes; yellow orpiment is a trisulfide of arsenic), and 1: 126 (canes); Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, p. 10; Porter, “Painting” 1 (October 2, 1845), 2. A general discussion of yellow pigments available in the period under study can be found in Richard M. Candee, “Housepaints in America: Their Materials, Manufacture, and Application,” part 3, section 5, Yellows, Color Engineering (March–April 1967): 38–40.
Sheraton, Dictionary, 1: 29.
Girard Accounts, William Cox Bill to Girard, March 12, 1791, Girard Papers; Luke Houghton Ledger A, Barre, Massachusetts, 1816–1827, accounts with Seth Caldwell, March 30, 1818, Eliphalet How, December 28, 1819, Seth Winston, November 9, 1824, and Constant Brown, November 23, 1825, and Ledger B, 1824–1851, account with Miss Adaline Babbit, November 1, 1832, Barre Historical Society, Massachusetts; Philemon Robbins Account Book, Hartford, Connecticut, 1833–1836, account with Eliab Pratt, December 7, 1836, CHS.
Stephen Girard Accounts, Joseph Burden Bill to Stephen Girard, Philadelphia, December 12, 1810, and Invoice of Goods on ship Rousseau, December 22, 1810, Girard Papers; Verree and Blair Advertisement, Charleston Courier (South Carolina), February 18, 1807; Alling Ledger, account with painter Moses Lyon, April 1815–July 1816.
Robbins Account Book, account with Thomas C. Perkins, April 30, 1834; Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, pp. 9–10; Elijah Eldredge, “Book of Receipts for Painting and Staining Wood,” Willington, Connecticut, ca. 1821–1829, DCM.
Ebenezer B. White Estate Records, Danbury, Connecticut, 1817, Genealogical Section, CSL; Thomas Safford Account Book, Canterbury, Connecticut, 1807–1835, accounts with John Safford, April 2, 1811, and Rufus Hubbard, August 1813, CSL; Cheney Daybook, account with William Brown, January 18, 1819; Preston Ledger, account with Polly Scovel, February 2, 1801; David Russell Account Book, Winchester, Virginia, 1796–1806, account with L. Lewis, ca. March 1803, Handley Library, Winchester, Virginia; Riley Estate Records.
Alling Ledger, accounts with painter Moses Lyon, August–November 1815 and February–October 1816; Florence M. Montgomery, Textiles in America, 1650–1870 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1983), s.v. “Nankeen” (p. 308).
Elizur Barnes Account Book, Middletown, Connecticut, 1821–1825, account with Arthur W. Magill, April 9, 1822, Middlesex Historical Society, Middletown, Connecticut; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 423 and 1: 126.
Robbins Account Book, accounts with Mr. Churchill, September 7, 1835, and John A. L[?] t, June 2, 1834; William N. Hosley Jr., “Wright, Robbins, and Winship and the Industrialization of the Furniture Industry in Hartford, Connecticut,” Connecticut Antiquarian 35, no. 2 (December 1983): 12–19; Kenney, Hitchcock Chair, p. 305 (store in Hartford).
Alexander Patterson Bill to Gerrit Wessel Van Schaick, New York, June 1, 1814, Van Schaick Papers, Gansevoort-Lansing Collection.
Alling Invoice Book, accounts of chairs shipped to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans, October 18, 1819, and ca. October 1820; Stephen Girard Accounts, Invoice Book, Philadelphia, 1811–1824, invoice of goods on ship North America, July 9, 1816, Girard Papers.
Joseph Walker Invoice Book, Philadelphia, 1784, “Remarks on Savannah Trade,” Maritime Documents: Cargo Papers, Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia.
Franklin, “Chronology,” in Page Talbott, ed., Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005), p. 363; Benjamin Franklin Estate Records, Philadelphia, 1790, RWP; William Cox Bills to Gen. Henry Knox, Philadelphia, July 29, 1794, and May 19, 1795, Papers of Henry Knox, Maine Historical Society, Portland.
John Letchworth Bill to William Meredith, Philadelphia, May 1, 1796, as illustrated in Alfred Coxe Prime, comp., The Arts and Crafts in Philadelphia, Maryland, and South Carolina, 1786–1800 (Topsfield, Mass.: Walpole Society, 1932), opp. p. 240.
Bill from unknown craftsman to William Dutilh, Philadelphia, May 1800, as quoted in Carl Drepperd, Handbook of Antique Chairs (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1948), p. 58; John B. Ackley Bill to Samuel Coates Jr., Philadelphia, November 26, 1800, Reynell and Coates Collection, BL; Girard Accounts, Taylor and King Bill to Stephen Girard, Philadelphia, 1799, Girard Papers.
Amos Bradley Ledger, East Haven, Connecticut, 1802–1815, account with Charles Stow, June 1, 1808, DCM; Silas E. Cheney Daybook, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1807–1813, account with Tapping Reeve, August 31, 1810, LHS; Lydia Pinkham Estate Records, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1810, NCPC; Chase Account Book, account with Daniel Avery, October 8, 1804; John Doggett Daybook, Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1802–1809, account with Capt. Tribbs, August 9, 1806, DCM; Tracy Ledger, account with John Coit, August 23, 1805. For evidence of white Windsor chairs in bedchambers, see Samuel Broome Estate Records, Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 1806, DCM; Susan Ward Estate Records, Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1835, DCM; and Barnes Account Book, account with Charles Dyer, September 14, 1822.
Alling Ledger, accounts with painter Moses Lyon, August 1816; Nolen and Gridley Advertisement.
William Palmer Bill to George Brewerton, New York, April 28, 1803, Brewerton Family Papers, DCM; Whitehead Fish Estate Records, New York, 1819, DCM; William Palmer Bill to Nicholas Low, New York, January 4, 1804, Nicholas Low Collection, LC; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 201.
Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 222, 231–32; Samuel Gridley Bill to Joshua Ward, Boston, February 5, 1810, Ward Family Manuscripts.
Alling Ledger, accounts with painter Moses Lyon, 1815–1817; Nolen and Gridley Advertisement; William Challen Advertisement, Kentucky Gazette and General Advertiser (Lexington), May 9, 1809; Barnes Account Book, account with Charles Dyer, March 1824.
Walker Invoice Book; Allen Order Book, accounts with Jabez Clark, April or May 1801, Rogers Downer, December 9, 1801 (edged), Patty Parish, April or May 1801 (cloth), Jeptha Fitch, May 28, 1802, Jerusha Fitch, July 10, 1802, and Capt. Stephen Payne, December 2, 1799; Stephen Payne Estate Records, Lebanon, Connecticut, 1815, Genealogical Section, CSL.
Preston Ledger, accounts with Polly Scovel, January 1801, and Cornelius Cook, August 21, 1805; Titus Preston Ledger, Wallingford, Connecticut, 1811–1842, account with Amos Bristol, October 5, 1814, Yale; Ebenezer Knowlton Estate Records, Boston, 1811, SCPC; Girard Accounts, Invoice Book, account of sales for ship Montesque, December 4, 1811, Girard Papers.
Lewis Bancel Estate Records, New York, 1828, DCM; Ohio scene described in Alice Cary, Clovernook, or Recollections of Our Neighborhood in the West (New York, 1854), as quoted in “Clues and Footnotes,” ed. Wendell Garrett, Antiques 108, no. 3 (September 1975): 456.
Tracy Ledger, accounts with John Coit, August 23, 1805, and John Corning, March 23, 1806; Bradley Ledger, account with Ezariah Bradley, November 13, 1802; Cole Account Book, account with Thomas Stevens, February 4, 1807; Samuel Barrett Estate Records, Concord, Massachusetts, 1825, Concord Free Public Library, Massachusetts (hereafter CFPL).
Sheraton, Dictionary 2: 424 and 1: 55; Porter, “Painting” (October 2, 1845), 2.
Encyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, 18 vols. (Philadelphia, 1798), 13: 653; Eldredge, “Book of Receipts,” p. 3; Broome Estate Records; John Oldham Estate Records, Baltimore, 1835, BCPR; Robbins Account Book, cash sale, October 3, 1834 (with rocking chair), and accounts with H. Grant, December 18, 1834 (with rocking chair), Ogden M. Alden, April 15, 1834, and Colton and Williams, May 15, 1834; Riley Estate Records.
James Chestney Bill to Catherine Gansevoort, Albany, New York, June 22, 1815, Papers of Catherine Van Schaick (Gansevoort), Gansevoort-Lansing Collection; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 425–26.
William Palmer Advertisement, Republican Watch-Tower (New York), February 27, 1802, as quoted in Gottesman, comp., Arts and Crafts in New York, 1800–1804, p. 150; William Palmer Bill to Stephen Arnold, New York, May 24, 1799, Greene Collection; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 424; William Palmer Bill to Andrew Bell, New York, May 6, 1814, Mercantile Papers-New Jersey, NYPL.
Samuel Gridley Advertisement, Columbian Centinel, April 22, 1807; Thomas Boynton Ledger, Boston (and Vermont), 1810–1817, account with Isaac Averil, June 21, 1811, Dartmouth College Library, Hanover, New Hampshire (hereafter DCL); Girard Accounts, John Mitchell Bill to Stephen Girard, Philadelphia, December 28, 1809, Girard Papers; Anonymous Advertisements from 146 Broad Street, Charleston, South Carolina, Charleston Courier, December 13, 1807, and February 3, 1808; Stibbs and Stout Advertisement, Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette (Ohio), September 30, 1816, as illustrated in Jane E. Sikes, The Furniture Makers of Cincinnati, 1790–1849 (Cincinnati, Ohio: by the author, 1976), p. 230.
Haydon and Stewart Bill to James J. Skerrett, Philadelphia, March 17, 1818, Loudoun Papers, HSP; David Alling Account Book, Newark, New Jersey, 1801–1839, accounts with Smith and Morgan and T. and M. Evans, both August 1833, NJHS. Information on access to Columbus, Georgia, from a coastal location is derived from A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer or Geographical Dictionary of the World (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1888), s.v. “Appalachicola River,” “Chattahoochee River,” and “Columbus, Georgia.”
John Minnick Advertisement, City Gazette, or the Daily Advertiser (Charleston, South Carolina), November 13, 1789; Solomon Maxwell Letter to Lawrence Allwine, Christiana, Delaware, August 25, 1794, Business Papers, Hollingsworth Collection, HSP.
Girard Accounts, Taylor and King Bill to Girard, May 21, 1799, Girard Papers; Bill from unknown craftsman to Dutilh, 1800, as quoted in Drepperd, Handbook, p. 58; Steel Bill of Lading; Ackley Bill to Coates, Reynell and Coates Collection.
Russell Account Book, account with L. Lewis, ca. March 1803; Sarah B. Mason Estate Records, Prince William City, Virginia, 1815, Prince William County Probate Court, Manassas, Virginia; Rea Daybook (1794–1797), account with Henry Merkell, March 25, 1795; George Davidson Waste Book, Boston, 1793–1799, account with John Hayward, February 2, 1796, OSV; Allen Order Book, account with J. Clark, Esq., April 1800; Estate Records, Nantucket, Massachusetts, for Alexander Gardner, 1803, John Clasby, 1805, Davis Coleman, 1805, John H. Swain, 1808, Peter Folger, 1808, Wicklief Chadwick, 1809, Phillips Fosdick, 1809, George Fitch, 1809, and Uriah Swain, 1810, NCPC.
Recipes for imitation mahogany in Rufus Porter, “The Art of Painting,” Scientific American 1, no. 17 (January 8, 1846): 2, and Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, p. 18.
Smith’s Art of House Painting, rev. William Butcher (London: Richard Holmes Laurie, 1821), p. 27; A. Otis, “Every Man His Own Painter: A Collection of Receipts,” n.p., 1836, s.v. “Chocolate,” DCM.
Hopkins and Charles Advertisement, City Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Charleston, South Carolina), March 7, 1798; Isaac A. Kip Estate Records, New York, 1805, DCM; Francis Barrett Estate Records, Concord, Massachusetts, 1819, CFPL.
Cox Bill to Knox, May 19, 1795, Papers of Henry Knox; Sheraton, Dictionary, 1: 102–3.
Boynton Ledger, accounts with Bryant and Loud, June 29, 1811, and Rufus Norton, October 25, 1814; Alling Ledger, accounts with painter Moses Lyon, April 1815–July 1816; Houghton Ledger (1816–1827), accounts with Miss Candice Allen, November 3, 1817, and Seth Caldwell, March 30, 1818; John H. Piatt Account Book, Cincinnati, Ohio, dates unknown, order to Roll and Deeds for B. V. Hunt, October 16, 1818, as illustrated in Sikes, Furniture Makers of Cincinnati, p. 206; Robbins Account Book, accounts with Josiah Dewey, September 16, 1834, and an anonymous cash customer, April 7, 1835; Oldham Estate Records.
Joseph Jones Bill for “drab stone Colour” chairs to Benjamin Sharpless, West Chester, Pennsylvania, May 13, 1842, as quoted in Margaret Berwind Schiffer, Furniture and Its Makers of Chester County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1966), p. 134; recipes for “drab, or light stone colour” and “stone brown” in Porter, “Painting” (October 2, 1845), 2; recipes for “Light Stone Color” and “Dark Stone Color” in Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, pp. 15, 17; recipe for “Stone Colour” in Fifield Ledger, n.d.; recipe for “stone yellow” in Eldredge, “Book of Receipts,” n.d.; recipe for “Portland-Stone Colour” in Smith’s Art of House Painting, p. 27.
Lambert Estate Records; Jones Bill to Sharpless, as quoted in Schiffer, Furniture and Its Makers of Chester County, p. 134.
Alling Ledger, accounts with painter Moses Lyon, April–September 1815, January–March and October 1816; 1830s chair prices in David Alling Daybook, Newark, New Jersey, 1836–1854, NJHS; Robbins Account Book, general accounts for 1834 and 1835 and account with Sage and Birge, March 26, 1835, for secondhand chairs.
Peter Peirce Estate Records, Templeton, Massachusetts, 1829–1836, Worcester County Probate Court, Worcester, Massachusetts; Houghton Ledger B (1824–1851), account with Earl Rice, August 27, 1830; Robbins Account Book, account with R. Bidwell, December 21, 1835; Riley Estate Records; Talcott Daybook, accounts with Edwin Cadwell, December 25, 1840, and Sylvester Taylor, January 1, 1841.
Robbins Account Book, accounts with F. H. Huntington, July 25, 1835 (rocking chair), Curtis Elmer, March 7, 1836 (5-rod Windsors), Joseph Langdon, May 26, 1835 (dressing table), Thomas C. Perkins, September 12, 1835 (bureau and dressing glass), and Mrs. B. Fowler, March 3, 1836 (washstand). Tea-colored chairs of both Windsor and fancy construction are named in Chester County, Pennsylvania, estate records for 1826, as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, pp. 105, 108.
Rose Estate Records; Riley Estate Records; Otis, “Collection of Receipts,” p. 1. “Fawn colour” chairs are recorded in a Chester County, Pennsylvania, inventory of 1847, as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, p. 104.
Alling Ledger, accounts with painter Moses Lyon, 1815–1817, and Invoice Book, Southern accounts, 1819–1820.
Ship George and Mary Invoice of Cargo in Ott, “Still More Notes,” p. 121; Stephen Girard Accounts, Invoice Book, Philadelphia, 1802–1811, invoice of goods on ship Montesque, December 13, 1810, and Invoice Book (1811–1824), account of sales for ship Montesque, December 4, 1811, Girard Papers.
Congdon and Tracy Advertisement, Norwich Courier (Connecticut), October 27, 1830; Jones Bill to Sharpless, as quoted in Schiffer, Furniture and Its Makers of Chester County, p. 134; Robbins Account Book, accounts with Walter Clap, May 23, 1834, and Deming and Bulkley, November 20, 1835; Isaac Wright Account Book, Hartford, Connecticut, 1834–1837, account with Charles Goodwin for “Hitchcock drab chairs,” February 23, 1834, CSL.
Benjamin Branson Estate Records, New York, 1835, DCM; Riley Estate Records; Robbins Account Book, accounts with Dr. Beresford, October 3, 1835 (dark-colored and tea-colored chairs), Edward Merrium, January 17, 1835 (dark-colored chairs), Sheldon and Colton, June 14, 1834 (drab-colored chairs), Lambert Hitchcock, July 29, 1834 (tea-colored chairs), and Hitchcock, Alford and Co., November 17, 1835 (gilt tea-colored chairs).
Robert Casey Estate Records, Baltimore County, Maryland, 1796, BCPR.
Burnell Estate Records; Allen Order Book, account with Charles Taintor, October 25, 1798.
Chase Account Book, accounts with Asa D. Ager, September 1, 1811, and Stephen Perley, April 2 and September 4, 1811 (including great chair); William Hemphill Estate Records, West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1817, as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, p. 338; Bancel Estate Records.
Alling Invoice Book, account with Nathan Bolles, March 1820. Samuel Gridley of Boston advertised “Coclico” chairs, probably imported from New York, in the Columbian Centinel, April 22, 1807. Ship George and Mary, in Ott, “Still More Notes,” p. 121; Stibbs and Stout Advertisement.
Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, p. 17; Whittock, Guide, pp. 9–10; Eldredge, “Book of Receipts,” p. 4; Anonymous Collection of Receipts for coating wooden surfaces, n.p., ca. 1800, DCM; Boynton Ledger, account with James Stimson, 1812.
Gridley Advertisement; Nolen and Gridley Advertisement; Patterson and Dennis Advertisement, New-York Evening Post, January 2, 1810; Challen Advertisement; Girard Accounts, Invoice Book (1802–1811), invoice of goods on ship Voltaire, December 28, 1809.
Alling Invoice Book, account with Nathan Bolles, March 1819; Porter, “Painting” (October 2, 1845), 2; Haydon and Stewart Bill to Skerrett, Loudoun Papers; Devor Estate Records; Waldo Tucker, The Mechanic’s Assistant (Windsor, Vt., 1837), p. 19; John Smith, The Art of Painting in Oyl, 5th ed. (London, 1723), as quoted in Candee, “Housepaints in America,” 26; Nolen and Gridley Advertisement. Both rose- and flesh-colored chairs stood in the Chester County, Pennsylvania, home of James Hawthorne at his death in 1827, as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, pp. 104, 108.
Maj. James Swan Auction Notice, Massachusetts Centinel (Boston), April 23, 1785; Ebenezer Stone Advertisement, Independent Chronicle (Boston), April 13, 1786; Hale Hilton Estate Records, Beverly, Massachusetts, 1802, Nathan Dane Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston (hereafter MHS); Allen Order Book, account with Mrs. Polly Lathrop, April 16, 1800.
Joseph Barrell Letter Book, Boston, 1791–1797, letter to John Atkinson, New York, March 1, 1795, MHS; Chase Account Book, anonymous account, June 1, 1797.
Allen Order Book, accounts with Col. Z. Swift, May 4, 1798, and Capt. R. Ripley, June 14, 1799; Barnes Account Book, account with John Ledge, June 1822; Russell Account Book, account with L. Lewis.
David Stowell Account Book, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1794–1802, account with Amasa Holden, February 16, 1801, DCM; Oliver Wight Bill to Josiah Walker, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, November 2, 1804, Walker Family Collection, OSV; Cheney Daybook (1807–1813), account with Stephen Mars, December 12, 1809.
Whittock, Guide, p. 11; Eldredge, “Book of Receipts,” p. 5; Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, p. 16 (recipe); Tucker, Mechanic’s Assistant, p. 100.
William Challen Bill to Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, New York, April 26, 1798, Livingston Papers; “Japanning,” in Bigelow, Useful Arts, 1: 175; “Jappaning,” in Robert D. Mussey Jr., The First American Furniture Finisher’s Manual (The Cabinet-Maker’s Guide, 1827; reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1987), p. xxv.
Daniel Eachus Inventory, West Goshen, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1823, as quoted in Schiffer, Chester County Inventories, p. 105; James Mitchell Bill to James J. Skerrett, Philadelphia, December 19, 1817, Loudoun Papers; William Cunningham Bill to Mr. A. Broadwell, Wheeling, (West) Virginia, March 23, 1839, facsimile in W. Graham Arader III, Newsletter, New York, October 1989; Lippencott’s Gazetteer, s.v. “Cynthiana,” “Licking River,” and “Kentucky.”
Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, 2nd rev. ed. Ralph Edwards, 3 vols. (1924–1927; reprint, Woodbridge, Eng.: Barra Books, 1983), 2: 250; David Bates Advertisement, Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), March 13, 1821, as quoted in Anne Castrodale Golovin, “Cabinetmakers and Chairmakers of Washington, D.C., 1791–1840,” Antiques 107, no. 5 (May 1975): 906; Porter, “Painting” (January 8, 1846), 2.
Alling Invoice Book, account with Nathan Bolles, ca. October 1820.
Stephen Taylor Bill to Jason Williams, Providence, Rhode Island, October 3, 1833, as quoted in Joseph K. Ott, “Recent Discoveries among Rhode Island Cabinetmakers and Their Work,” Rhode Island History 28, no. 1 (February 1969): 23; Robbins Account Book, account with Sullivan Hill, December 25, 1835.
Houghton Ledger B (1824–1851), accounts with David West, February 1838–February 1839, and Daniel Witt, February 1838, and Ledger A (1816–1827), account with Joseph Osgood Jr., October 1838; John Hayward, The New England Gazetteer (Boston: John Hayward, 1839), s.v. “Worcester County, Mass.”
Riley Estate Records.
Haydon and Stewart Bills to Levi Hollingsworth, Philadelphia, April 22 and June 27, 1812, Harrold Gillingham Collection, HSP; Alling Invoice Book, accounts with Nathan Bolles, March and October 1819.
Peirce Estate Records; Parrott and Hubbel Insolvency Records, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1835, Genealogical Section, CSL.
David Alling Ledger, Newark, New Jersey, 1803–1853, account with John Taylor, May 29, 1837, NJHS, and Alling Daybook, account with Anthony Dye, Esq., August 23, 1836; Henry Barnard Bill to Albert C. Greene, Esq., Providence, Rhode Island, March 22, 1834, Greene Collection.
Porter, “Painting” (January 8, 1846), 2; Whittock, Guide, pp. 20, 40, 43.
Esther Stevens Brazer, Early American Decoration (Springfield, Mass.: Pond-Ekberg, 1947), pp. 128–29; Mussey, Furniture Finisher’s Manual, “To imitate black Rose-wood,” pp. 45–46; Sheraton, Dictionary, 1: 16, pl. 3; Adam Bowett, “Furniture Woods in London and Provincial Furniture, 1700–1800,” in Regional Furniture (England), 22 (2008): 102; Whittock, Guide, p. 40; William G. Beesley Daybook, Salem, New Jersey, 1828–1836, accounts with Elijah Ware for “streaking and ornamenting,” August 15, 1834, and “streaking and shading,” November 17, 1834, Salem County Historical Society, New Jersey.
Bates and Johnson Advertisement, The Albany Directory (Albany, N.Y.: E. and E. Hosford, 1819), n.p.; Alling Invoice Book, accounts with Nathan Bolles, October 1819 and March and ca. October 1820; Riley Estate Records.
Sacket and Branch Advertisement, Providence Patriot and Columbian Phenix (Rhode Island), November 11, 1829; D. A. Shepard Advertisement, Cleveland Herald (Ohio), September 3, 1845, as quoted in Jane Sikes Hageman and Edward M. Hageman, Ohio Furniture Makers, 2 vols. (Cincinnati, Ohio: by the authors, 1989), 2: 192; Abraham D. Montayne Advertisement, New York, source unknown, 1825 (photocopy, courtesy of Michael Dunbar); Sass and Gready Advertisement, City Gazette and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Charleston, South Carolina), January 21, 1818, as quoted in Rauschenberg and Bivins, Furniture of Charleston, 3: 1212.
Girard Accounts, Invoice Book (1811–1824), invoice of goods on ship North America, July 9, 1816, Girard Papers; Alling Invoice Book, accounts with Nathan Bolles, March and October 1819 and ca. October 1820.
Alling Daybook, account with Daniel D. Benjamin, November 27, 1839; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 422–23; Abraham McDonough Estate Records, Philadelphia, 1852, DCM.
Frederick Fox Advertisement, Berks and Schuylkill Journal (Reading, Pennsylvania), April 26, 1845; McDonough Estate Records; Tucker, Mechanic’s Assistant, pp. 156–57; Whittock, Guide, pp. 34–35; Smith’s Art of House Painting, p. 28; Reynolds, House and Ship Painting, pp. 18–19.
Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 314; Anthony A. P. Steumpfig, “William Haydon and William H. Stewart: Fancy-Chair Makers in Philadelphia,” Antiques 104, no. 3 (September 1973): 452–57; Alling Ledger (1815–1818), accounts with painter Moses Lyon, 1815–1816.
Whittock, Guide, pp. 21, 38; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 315.
William Haydon Advertisement, United States Gazette (Philadelphia), June 20, 1815; Broome Estate Records; Jacob Chandler Estate Records, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1808, NCPC; Porter, “Painting” (January 8, 1846), 2; Whittock, Guide, p. 77.
Samuel Claphamson Advertisement, Pennsylvania Packet, January 8, 1785, as quoted in Prime, comp., Arts and Crafts in Philadelphia, 1721–1785, p. 162; Rea Daybook (1789–1793), accounts with Andrew Craigie, Esq., August 27, 1793, and Henry Merkell, March 25, 1795; Anonymous Advertisement, Columbian Centinel, January 29, 1812.
James C. Helme, “Book of Prices for Making Cabinet & Chair furnature,” Plymouth, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, August 20, 1838, DCM.
James Gere Ledger, account with George Harvey, September 30, 1831; Joel Brown Advertisement, North Carolina Star (Raleigh), March 29, 1822, as quoted in James H. Craig, The Arts and Crafts in North Carolina, 1699–1840 (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 1965), p. 202; Dockum and Brown Advertisement, New-Hampshire Gazette, December 11, 1827.
Rea Daybook (1772–1800), account with Samuel Bradford, Esq., May 18, 1797; Bradley Ledger, account with Charles Stow, October 8, 1807.
Cole Account Book, account with Pardon Brown, July 19, 1804; Allen Order Book, accounts with Shubael Abbe, August 15, 1801, and April 10, 1802, Charles Taintor, October 25, 1798, Col. T. Dyer, June 20, 1799, and Rogers Downer, December 10, 1801; Chase Account Book (1797–1807), account with Stephen Parley, November 4, 1801, and James Chase Account Book, Gilmanton, New Hampshire, 1807–1812, account with Capt. Elisha Smith, March 29, 1810, privately owned, as quoted in Charles S. Parsons, “New Hampshire Notes,” VRC; Evans Advertisement.
Rea Daybook (1789–1802), account with Capt. William Williams, March 10, 1801; Preston Ledger (1795–1817), account with Polly Scovel, January 1801, and Preston Ledger (1811–1842), account with George Wilnut, February 1820. Fancy seating furniture in the classical mode with striped and banded ornament, dating between 1800 and 1810, is illustrated in Lance Humphries, “Provenance, Patronage, and Perception: The Morris Suite of Baltimore Painted Furniture,” in American Furniture 2003, ed. Luke Beckerdite (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England for the Chipstone Foundation, 2003), pp. 138–212, and Beatrice B. Garvan, Federal Philadelphia: The Athens of the Western World (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1987), pp. 90–93. Cheney Daybook (1807–1813), account with Tapping Reeve, August 31, 1810; Holcomb Account Book, account with Simon Smith, April ; Boynton Ledger, account with John Patterson, December 1814; Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, December 27, 1816.
Daniel Dewey Bill to Daniel Wadsworth, Esq., Hartford, Connecticut, August 30, 1831, Daniel Wadsworth Papers, CHS; Devor Estate Records; Alling Daybook, account with Thomas Peney, March 1, 1837.
Preston Ledger (1795–1817), account with Cornelius Cook, July 27, 1804; Tracy Ledger, accounts with Joel Hyde, May 9, 1806, and William Lord, April 1, 1809; Nathaniel F. Martin Account Book, Windham, Connecticut, ca. 1784–1833, account with Philip Pearl, February 1806, CHS; Oliver Avery Account Book, North Stonington, Connecticut, 1789–1813, account with Capt. Stephen Avery, August 1811, DCM; Silas E. Cheney Daybook, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1802–1807, account with Elisha Mason, June 1806, LHS.
Daniel Rea Jr., Ledger, Boston, 1773–1794, account with Paul Revere, August 23, 1786, BL.
Advertisements of John Dewitt, New-York Weekly Chronicle, June 18, 1795, and Walter MacBride, Weekly Museum (New York), July 18, 1795, both as quoted in Gottesman, comp., Arts and Crafts in New York, 1777–1779, pp. 115, 123–24; William Haydon Advertisement, Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia), January 9, 1797, as quoted in Prime, comp., Arts and Crafts in Philadelphia, 1786–1800, p. 14; Vosburgh and Childs Advertisement; John and Hugh Finlay Advertisements, Federal Gazette and Baltimore Daily Advertiser, January 31, 1803, and November 8, 1805, as quoted in William Voss Elder III, Baltimore Painted Furniture, 1800–1840 (Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art, 1972), p. 11; May and Renshaw Advertisement, Scioto Gazette and Fredonian Advertiser (Chillicothe, Ohio), February 29, 1816.
Alling Ledger (1815–1818), accounts with painter Moses Lyon, 1815–1817, and Invoice Book, account of chairs shipped to Nathen Bolles at New Orleans, October 18, 1819; Nolen and Gridley Advertisement; Robbins Account Book, account with Levi J. Waters, April 3, 1834; Devor Estate Records.
Nolen and Gridley Advertisement; Devor Estate Records; Alling Account Book, account with J. W. Meeks and Co., September 18, 1833.
Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, September 1817; Boynton Ledger, account with John Patterson, March 24, 1815; Nolen and Gridley Advertisement.
Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, November 25, 1815.
Talcott Daybook, account with Sylvester Taylor Jr., March 11, 1843; a Lafayette banquet chair is illustrated in Elder, Baltimore Painted Furniture, p. 69.
Nolen and Gridley Advertisement; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 102.
Samuel J. Tuck Advertisements, Columbian Centinel, July 12, 1800, October 15, 1803, and May 25, 1808; Henry Beck Advertisement, New-Hampshire Gazette, September 20, 1808; Chapman and Merritt Advertisement, Connecticut Herald (New Haven), April 18, 1809; Challen Advertisement.
Girard Accounts, Invoice Book (1802–1811), invoice of goods on ship Montesque, December 13, 1810, and Invoice Book (1811–1824), invoice of goods on ship North America, July 9, 1816; Alling Ledger (1815–1818), accounts with painter Moses Lyon, 1815–1817.
Rufus E. Shapley Advertisement, American Volunteer (Carlisle, Pennsylvania), September 16, 1819, as illustrated in Merri Lou Schaumann, Plank Bottom Chairs and Chairmakers: South Central Pennsylvania, 1800–1880 (Carlisle, Pa.: Cumberland County Historical Society, 2009), p. 32. For the Humberston Skipwith table and explanation, see Gregory R. Weidman, “The Furniture of Classical Maryland, 1815–1845,” in Classical Maryland, 1815–1845 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1993), fig. 121, pp. 103–5, and Cynthia V. A. Schaffner and Susan Klein, American Painted Furniture, 1790–1880 (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1997), pp. 69–70.
Edward Needles Advertisement, Baltimore Patriot and Mercantile Advertiser, January 11, 1830; Robbins Account Book, account with Charles Bartlett, April 29, 1835; Wright Account Book, credit for Lambert Hitchcock, February 12, 1834; Alling Daybook, account with David B. Crockett, August 19, 1839; Jones Bill to Benjamin Sharpless; Septimus Claypoole Bill to Jerome N. Bonaparte, president, Baltimore Commercial Exchange Co., March 10, 1843, Baltimore Exchange Hotel Collection, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.
Wright Account Book, credit for Lambert Hitchcock, February 2, 1834; Robbins Account Book, account with Mrs. Williams, September 10, 1835; Rea Daybook (1794–1797), account with Andrew Craigie, Esq., May 12, 1794.
William Palmer Bill to Arnold, May 24, 1799, Greene Collection; Robert Cowan Bill to Joshua Ward, October 11, 1803, Ward Family Manuscripts; Broome Estate Records; Pinkham Estate Records.
William Palmer Bill to Mr. Cox, New York, June 15, 1805, White-Beekman Papers; Palmer Bill to Low, January 4, 1804, Low Collection; Palmer Advertisement; Palmer Bill to Arnold, May 24, 1799, Greene Collection; Palmer Bill to Bell, May 6, 1814, Mercantile Papers; David Alling, Receipt Book, Newark, New Jersey, 1803–1824, receipts from William Palmer, June 25 and July 12, 1803, NJHS; Charles Cluss Bill to William Arnold, New York, 1808, as quoted in Ott, “Recent Discoveries,” p. 15; Patterson Bill to Van Schaick, Gansevoort-Lansing Collection; Charleston Newspaper Notices, Charleston Courier, December 13, 1807, and February 3, 1808; A. Clark advertisement, Raleigh Minerva (North Carolina), April 16, 1819; Nolen and Gridley Advertisement.
Charleston Newspaper Notices, Charleston Courier, January 16 and December 13, 1807, and February 3, 1808; John Stille Jr., Shipping Manifest listing chairs consigned to John Derby, Philadelphia, December 10, 1801, Derby Family Papers; William H. Stewart Bill to Richard Bland Lee via Zaccheus Collins, Philadelphia, May 13, 1815, Daniel Parker Papers, HSP; Haydon and Stewart Bill to Skerrett, March 17, 1818, and Mitchell Bill to Skerrett, December 19, 1817, Loudoun Papers.
Girard Accounts, Mitchell Bill to Girard, December 28, 1809, and Invoice Book (1802–1811), invoice of goods on ship Montesque, December 13, 1810, and Invoice Book (1811–1824), account of sales for ship Montesque, December 4, 1811, and invoice of goods on ship North America, July 9, 1816.
Ship George and Mary Invoice of Cargo.
Samuel G. Bodge Advertisement, Providence Patriot and Columbian Phenix, October 20, 1827; Levi Stillman Account Book, New Haven, Connecticut, 1815–1834, invoice of furniture shipped to Lima, Peru, on brig Rio, September 20, 1826, Yale; Thomas Boynton Ledger, Windsor, Vermont, 1817–1847, account with Robert Davis, June 7, 1818, DCL.
Alling Invoice Book, accounts of chairs shipped to Nathen Bolles, 1819–1820.
Daniel Rea Jr., Daybook (1794–1797), Boston, account with Andrew Craigie, Esq., May 12, 1794; William Palmer Advertisement, New York, February 27, 1802; John Mitchell Bill to Stephen Girard, Philadelphia, December 28, 1809; John and Hugh Finlay Advertisement, Baltimore, January 31, 1803; Thomas Boynton Ledger (1810–1817), Vermont, account with Isaac Averil, June 21, 1811; George Kearns Advertisement, Martinsburgh Gazette ([West] Virginia), April 5, 1811; Silas Cooper Advertisement, Columbian Museum and Savannah Advertiser (Savannah, Georgia), December 18, 1801; William Challen Advertisement, Kentucky, May 9, 1809; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 231–32; Rufus Porter, “The Art of Painting,” Scientific American 1, no. 9 (November 13, 1845): 2.
Porter, “Painting” (November 13, 1845), 2; Boynton Ledger (1810–1817), credit for John Patterson, March 24, 1815; Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 231–32; James Gere Ledger, Groton, Connecticut, 1809–1829, credit for Isaac Treby, March 12, 1827, CSL.
Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 422–23; Beesley Daybook, account with Henry Mason, August 19, 1831.
Sheraton, Dictionary, 2: 422–23; Robbins Account Book, account with Judge Bruce, November 1835; Barnes Account Book, accounts with Charles Dyer, March 1824, and Arthur W. Magill, April 9, 1822; Beesley Daybook, account with William N. Jeffers, April 13, 1832.
Hounsfield Estate Records; Fish Estate Records; Jacob Sanderson in account with Richard Austin, Salem, Massachusetts, April 1805–May 1806, item recorded April 12, 1805, Papers of Elijah Sanderson, PEM.
Stephanus Knight Account Book, Enfield, Connecticut, 1795–1809, account with Zebulon Pease, January 12, 1808, CHS; Chappel Estate Records; Spenser Estate Records.
Allen Order Book, accounts with Mr. Story, September 18, 1800 (yellow backs), Ezra Chapman, September 15, 1800 (green backs), John Lathrop, April 16, 1800 (blue backs), and Mr. N. Simons, May 28, 1801 (green with black bottoms); Christian and Paxton Advertisement, American Citizen (New York), August 11, 1804; Preston Ledger (1795–1817), account with Polly Scovel, February 2, 1801; Russell Account book, account with L. Lewis, March 1803.
Fussell Account Book, accounts with Richard Tyson 1740/41, Joseph Hart, 1744, and Sarah Hogg, 1747; William Barker Account Book, Providence, Rhode Island, 1750–1772, account with Ephraim Bowen, February 1774, RIHS; Allen Order Book, account with Miss Chandler, November 1796.
Riley Estate Records; Robbins Account Book, accounts with E. Hooker, Esq., July 17, 1834, and William C. Andrews, March 22, 1834 (maple top); Beesley Daybook, account with Elijah Ware, August 5, 1836; Henry F. Dewey Account Book, Bennington, Vermont, 1837–1864, account with D. Burton, 1842, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont; Charles C. Robinson Daybook, Philadelphia, 1809–1825, account with Launcelot Jenkins, November 25, 1815, HSP.
Robbins Account Book, account with Norman Hubbard, March 25, 1834; Devor Estate Records; Talcott Daybook, credit for Sylvester Taylor Jr., May 29, 1843.
Boynton Ledger (1810–1817), credit for John Parker, November 17, 1815, and Ledger (1817–1847), credit with Franklin Howe, 1836; Beesley Daybook, account with Joseph E. Brown, September 12, 1831; Robbins Account Book, credit for Sullivan Hill, March 6, 1835.
Robbins Account Book, accounts with E. Hooker, Esq., July 17, 1834, and Adam Miner, February 19, 1835, and credit for Horace Lee, September 4, 1835 (green caned rocker); Jacob Sanderson in account with Richard Austin, 1805–1806, item recorded February 1806, Sanderson Papers; Alling Invoice Book, account of chairs shipped to Nathen Bolles, ca. October 1820, and Alling Daybook, account with Frederick T. Frelinghuysen Jr., Esq., May 25, 1840.
Fussell Account Book, accounts with Abraham Griffith, 1742, and Joseph Addis, 1747; Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, February 13, 1816, and Alling Ledger (1803–1853), account with Fitch Smith, April 1, 1840; David Alling Estate Records, Newark, New Jersey, 1855, Archives and History Bureau, New Jersey State Library, Newark.
For further information on nurse and sewing chairs, see Nancy Goyne Evans, American Windsor Furniture: Specialized Forms (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1997), pp. 55–57.
Riley Estate Records; Girard Accounts, Burden Bill to Girard, December 12, 1810, and Invoice Book (1802–1811), invoice of goods on ship Rousseau, December 22, 1810, Girard Papers; Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, September 27, 1817.
Hopkins and Charles Advertisement; Challen Advertisement; Riley Estate Records.
Charleston Newspaper Notices, January 16 and December 13, 1807, and February 3, 1808; Girard Invoice Book (1802–1811), invoice of goods on ship Rousseau, December 22, 1810, Girard Papers; Challen Advertisement, May 9, 1809; Lambert Estate Records; Cox Bill to Knox, May 19, 1795, Knox Papers.
Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, February 3, 1817; Sass and Gready Advertisement; Riley Estate Records.
Cheney Daybook (1813–1821), account with Oliver Wolcott, September 16, 1815; richly ornamented settees in Samuel Gridley Advertisement, April 22, 1807; Challen Advertisement; Kearns Advertisement; Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, November 1815–July 1817 (bronzing) and 1816 (tipping); Barnes Account Book, account with Jonathan Barnes, August 23, 1822.
Alling Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, January 14, 1817 (fruit pattern); Finlay Advertisement, November 8, 1805; Lambert Estate Records; Cox Bill to Gen. Henry Knox, May 19, 1795, Knox Papers; Bill from unknown craftsman to Dutilh; Alling Ledger (1815–1818), accounts with painter Moses Lyon, March 19, 1816 (organ spindles), June 30, 1817 (slat backs), November 25, 1818 (double-cross backs), March 23, 1816, and January 14, 1817 (ball backs); Riley Estate Records.
Henry Wilder Miller Account Book, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1827–1831, accounts with W. and S. Barber, June 2, 1827, David Partridge, May 26, 1817, Scott and Smith, June 16, 1827 (painting settee), Warren Bowen, July 28, 1828 (ornamenting settee), and William Stowell, September 5, 1827 (purchase of a settee), Worcester Historical Museum, Massachusetts; Cheney Daybook (1813–1821), account with Oliver Wolcott, September 16, 1815.
Rea Daybook (1789–1802), account with William Bradford, October 26, 1800; Currier Account Book, account with Peter Jenness, November 1834.
William Beekman Estate Records, New York, 1795, DCM; William Gray Ledger, Salem, Massachusetts, 1774–1814, account with Samuel C. Ward, December 26, 1793, PEM; Alling Daybook, account with Thomas V. Johnson, August 31, 1839; Riley Estate Records; Bancel Estate Records; Chauncey Strong Daybook, Laurens, New York, 1852–1869, account with George and Edgar Holcomb, November 8, 1852, New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown.
Josiah P. Wilder Daybook and Ledger, New Ipswich, New Hampshire, 1837–1861, accounts with Miss Elisa Bachelder, November 22, 1837, and Maria Ryan, May 16, 1838, private collection (transcript, VRC). Further data on women in the furniture labor force can be found in Nancy Goyne Evans, Windsor-Chair Making in America: From Craft Shop to Consumer (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2006), p. 16.
Alling Daybook (1836–1854), account with Hay and Agens, April 22, 1837, and Ledger (1803–1853), accounts with Jonas Agens, June 8, 1839, and C. W. Badger, July 19, 1838; Miller Account Book, account with anonymous purchaser, March 26, 1829.
Boynton Ledger (1810–1817), account with Samuel Barrett, October 16, 1816, and Ledger (1817–1847), account with William Savage, January 16, 1826; Miller Account Book, account with Joseph T. Turner, August 1, 1827; Stephen Girard Accounts, Joseph Burden Bill to Stephen Girard, Philadelphia, July 28, 1827, Girard Papers (painting music stool).
Fussell Account Book, accounts with Benjamin Franklin, 1744, John Smith, 1745 (black chair), and John Rush, 1748/49 (brown chairs); James Beekman Account Book of Personal Affairs, New York, 1761–1796, account entry dated October 27, 1762, White-Beekman Papers; Dinah Jenkins Estate Records, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1788, NCPC; Alling Invoice Book, account of chairs shipped to Nathan Bolles at New Orleans, October 18, 1819, and Ledger (1803–1853), accounts with Fitch Smith, April 1, 1840 (tipping), and William Garthwaite, March 25, 1841 (striping); Boynton Ledger (1810–1817), account with Stephen Child, July 24, 1811.
William Barker Account Book, Providence, Rhode Island, 1753–1766, account with John Power, September 2, 1753, RIHS; Chase Account Book (1797–1812), anonymous purchase, September 12, 1799; Daniel and Samuel Proud Ledger, Providence, Rhode Island, 1782–1825, accounts with Amos Atwell, December 8, 1803, and William Colegrow, April 14, 1807, RIHS; Robbins Account Book, account with Francis Pellomes (sp.?), November 14, 1835; Oliver Avery Account Book, account with Edward Stuart, May 1812; Barnes Account Book, account with William Scranton, April 16, 1822.
Robinson Account Book, accounts with David Hoopes, April 20, 1817, and Richard McIlvain, April 29, 1812; Alling Invoice Book, account of chairs shipped to Nathan Bolles, ca. October 1820, and Ledger (1815–1818), account with painter Moses Lyon, May 6, 1815; Bass Estate Records.
Fussell Account Book, account with George Emlen, 1742; John Letchworth Bill to Jonathan Williams, Philadelphia, 1795, Jonathan Williams Collection, DCM; Robbins Account Book, account with John A. Taintor, July 31, 1834; Boynton Ledger (1810–1817), credit for John Patterson, December 1814.
William Cox Bill to John Cadwalader, Philadelphia, October 29, 1774, Gen. John Cadwalader Section, Cadwalader Collection; Job E. Townsend Daybook, Newport, Rhode Island, 1778–1803, account with Joshua Crandel, September 28, 1795, NHS; Alling Daybook, account with David Tichenor, August 26, 1836; Rea Daybook (1789–1793), account with Samuel Parkman, June 10, 1791; Robbins Account Book, account with Nathan Pratt, August 26, 1835.