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J. Thomas Savage
The Holmes-Edwards Library Bookcase and the Origins of the German School in Pre-Revolutionary Charleston

American Furniture 1997

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Library bookcase attributed to Martin Pfeninger, Charleston, South Carolina, 1770–1775. Mahogany, mahogany and burl walnut veneer, and ivory and unidentified wood inlays with cypress. H. 128 3/4", W. 99", D. 20 1/2". (Courtesy, Charleston Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    John Edwards House, 15 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina, completed about 1770. (Photo, William Struhs.) This structure is the only surviving eighteenth-century Charleston frame house with a rusticated facade.

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    The Holmes-Edwards library bookcase as illustrated in Esther Singleton, The Furniture of Our Forefathers (New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1901), p. 150. This image indicates that the basket ornament was partially restored by the early twentieth century.

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Detail of the pediment of the library bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The five straight sprigs with leaves and flowers behind the rose of the basket-and-flower ornament are incorrect replacements.

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Detail of the scrollwork, mahogany and burl veneer panels, and engraved ivory husks on the frieze of the library bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Detail of the floral marquetry on the frieze and tympanum of the library bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The color contrasts of the marquetry were originally stronger.

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Detail of the floral marquetry on the tympanum plinth of the library bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Detail of an engraved ivory husk on a lower door of the library bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Detail of the dustboard construction on the library bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Dielenschrank, Lubeck, Germany, 1760–1770. Woods not recorded. H. 95 5/8", W. 122 13/16", D. 32 1/4". (Illustrated in Wolfgang Schwarze, Antike Deutsche Mobel: das Burgerliche und Rustikale Mobel in Deutschland von 1700–1840 [Wuppertal, Germany: by the author, 1977], p. 16, fig. 17.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Standuhr, Brunswick, Germany, ca. 1770. Woods not recorded. H. 88 1/2". (Illustrated in Wolfgang Schwarze, Antike Deutsche Mobel: das Burgerliche und Rustikale Mobel in Deutschland von 1700–1840 [Wuppertal, Germany: by the author, 1977], p. 70, fig. 177.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Kommodenaufsatzschrank, Brunswick, Germany, 1750–1760. Woods and dimensions not recorded. (Illustrated in Wolfgang Schwarze, Antike Deutsche Mobel: das Burgerliche und Rustikale Mobel in Deutschland von 1700–1840 [Wuppertal, Germany: by the author, 1977], p. 64, fig. 156.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Kommodenaufsatzschrank, Brunswick, Germany, ca. 1750. Woods not recorded. H. 100", W. 58 1/4", D. 29 1/2". (Illustrated in Wolfgang Schwarze, Antike Deutsche Mobel: das Burgerliche und Rustikale Mobel in Deutschland von 1700–1840 [Wuppertal, Germany: by the author, 1977], p. 70, fig. 176b.)

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Chest of drawers with inlay attributed to Martin Pfeninger, Charleston, South Carolina, 1775–1782. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebonized beech and unidentified lightwood inlays with yellow pine and mahogany. H. 34", W. 41 1/2", D. 24 1/4". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Detail of a bracket foot on the chest of drawers illustrated in fig. 14.

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Detail of two bracket feet on the library bookcase illustrated in fig. 1, showing inlays and stringing. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Detail of the base pendant on the chest of drawers illustrated in fig. 14.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Schreibkommode, Brunswick, Germany, 1750–1760. Woods not recorded. H. 45 1/4", W. 43 5/16", D. 24 13/16". (Illustrated in Wolfgang Schwarze, Antike Deutsche Mobel: das Burgerliche und Rustikale Mobel in Deutschland von 1700–1840 [Wuppertal, Germany: by the author, 1977], p. 64, fig. 154.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Kommodenschrank, Brunswick, Germany, 1750. Woods not recorded. H. 96 1/2", W. 57", D. 29 1/2". (Illustrated in Wolfgang Schwarze, Antike Deutsche Mobel: das Burgerliche und Rustikale Mobel in Deutschland von 1700–1840 [Wuppertal, Germany: by the author, 1977], p. 63, fig. 153.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Breakfast table with inlay attributed to Martin Pfeninger, Charleston, South Carolina, 1775–1782. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, and unidentified lightwood inlays with cypress and ash. H. 28 7/8", W. 21 1/2" (closed), D. 243/4". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Detail of the leg and bracket inlay on the breakfast table illustrated in fig. 20.

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Card table, Charleston, South Carolina, 1775–1785. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, and unidentified lightwood inlay with cypress and mahogany. H. 29 3/8", W. 36", D. 17 13/16" (closed). (Courtesy, Charleston Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Card table, Charleston, South Carolina, 1770–1785. H. 29 3/8", W. 34 1/2", D. 17 1/2" (closed). (Collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Detail of a carved bracket on the card table illustrated in fig. 23.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Detail of the swing-leg/rail joint of the card table illustrated in fig. 22. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Breakfast table, Charleston, South Carolina, 1775–1785. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, and unidentified lightwood stringing with cedrela, tulip poplar, and white pine. H. 28 1/2", W. 36 1/8" (open), D. 30". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Detail of a carved bracket on the breakfast table illustrated in fig. 26. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Secretary-press, Charleston, South Carolina, 1780–1790. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, and unidentified lightwood inlays with white pine, cypress, and red cedar. H. 10 5 5/8", W. 56", D. 27 3/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The pediment was altered during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Although portions of the swelled frieze are original, the tympanum, scroll moldings, and rosettes are modern restorations.

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Library bookcase, Charleston, South Carolina, 1790–1800. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, and unidentified lightwood inlays with red cedar, white pine, and cypress. H. 126 3/8", W. 117", D. 25". (Courtesy, Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection.) The broken-scroll pediment is a replacement.