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Wendy A. Cooper, Patricia Edmonson, and Lisa M. Minardi
The Compass Artist of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

American Furniture 2009

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1a
    Figure 1a

    Composite illustration showing Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar, pine. H. 5 1/8", W. 6 3/8", D. 4 5/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) 

  • Figure 1b
    Figure 1b

    Composite illustration showing Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar. H. 6 3/4", W. 10", D. 6 5/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) 

  • Figure 1c
    Figure 1c

    Composite illustration showing Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar, pine. H. 11 1/8", W. 14 7/8", D. 11 7/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Map of southeastern Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County and environs.

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar. H. 12 1/2", W. 16", D. 10 1/2". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Chest, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1785–1820. Pine and oak. H. 24", W. 49 1/2", D. 22 3/4". (Private collection; photo, Olde Hope Antiques, Inc.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    The American Corner in Elie and Viola Nadelman’s Museum of Folk Arts, Riverdale, New York, late 1920s. (Courtesy, Cynthia Nadelman.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Entrance hall at Chestertown House, Southampton, Long Island, ca. 1928. (Courtesy, The Winterthur Library: Winterthur Archives.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Carl Strehlau, “Pa. German Chest,” Index of American Design, ca. 1940. (Courtesy, Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Carol Larson, “Wood Box or Chest,” Index of American Design, ca. 1937. (Courtesy, Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) 8

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Plate 5 from Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises (1678). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Painted chest, vicinity of Ortenburg, Bavaria, Germany. Materials and dimensions unrecorded. (Private collection; photo, Callwey Verlag.)10

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Box, probably Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1744. Pine. H. 11 7/8", W. 7", D. 5 1/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The painted initials on the lid suggest that the box was made for Antje Luyster of Monmouth County.

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Detail of the compass-generated inlay on a drawer from a chest of drawers, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1730–1750. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Line drawing showing how the front, side, and back boards of the dome-top boxes are dovetailed together. 

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail showing the pinned bottom board of a box not illustrated in this article. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Line drawing showing how the top and bottom boards of the dome-top boxes are attached with small wooden pins.

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Line drawing showing how compass-work motifs were scribed on dome-top boxes. 

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Line drawing showing how the dome-top boxes were sawn into two sections after the scribing was complete.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Detail of a bisected dovetail on the blue box illustrated in fig. 1b. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Detail of the alignment batten inside the large red box illustrated in fig. 1c. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) 

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Detail of the bare wood behind the replaced escutcheon plate on the large red box illustrated in fig. 1c. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) 

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Detail showing interior paint drips and a hinge on the small red box illustrated in fig. 1a. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Detail of the escutcheon and underside of the hasp on the small red box illustrated in fig. 1a. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Detail of painted decoration that does not follow a scribed outline on the blue box illustrated in fig. 1b. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Detail of coin edging on the box illustrated in fig. 41. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Comparison of two compass-work motifs, from the large red box illustrated in fig. 1c (left) and the box illustrated in fig. 41 (right). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Line drawing showing the scribing of a compass motif.

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Detail of fan motif on a box not illustrated in this article. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Detail of a half-tulip motif on the box illustrated in fig. 41. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Detail of a tulip motif on the chest illustrated in fig. 34. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar. H. 2 1/4", W. 5 3/4", D. 7 3/8". (Private collection; photo, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar. H. 2 3/8", W. 8", D. 5 7/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The interior of this box is partitioned into six compartments.

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Saltbox, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Pine. H. 12 1/4", W. 6 3/4", D. 6 3/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Cradle, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar. H. 8", L. 16 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Pook & Pook.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Chest, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, ca. 1788. Pine, oak. H. 22 1/4", W. 48 7/8", D. 21 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Chest, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1785–1820. Pine, oak. H. 23", W. 50", D. 22". (Courtesy, Dr. and Mrs. Donald M. Herr; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Detail showing the underside of the chest illustrated in fig. 34. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Detail of a foot on the chest illustrated in fig. 34. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Detail of the wedged tenon of a foot on the chest illustrated in fig. 34. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Detail of the lock inscribed “GHEN 1802” on a chest with compass artist decoration not illustrated in this article. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Detail showing the mermaids drawn in chalk on the inside of the lid of the chest illustrated in fig. 35. (Courtesy, Dr. and Mrs. Donald M. Herr; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar. H. 7 7/8", W. 10 3/4", D. 10 3/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Infrared image of inscription “Jacob H Nolt / February 12, 18[ ]4 / Lancaster / Jonas H Nolt” on the box illustrated in fig. 41. (Photo, Winterthur Museum.) 

  • Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Infrared image of the inscription on the small red box illustrated in fig. 1a. (Photo, Winterthur Museum.) 

  • Figure 44
    Figure 44

    Infrared image of the inscription on a box not illustrated in this article. (Photo, Winterthur Museum.) 

  • Figure 45
    Figure 45

    Box, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1800–1840. Tulip poplar. H. 2 1/2", W. 3 1/2", D. 6 3/8". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum, gift of Larry M. Neff in memory of Frederick W. Weiser; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 46
    Figure 46

    Detail showing the underside of the box illustrated in fig. 45. 

  • Figure 47
    Figure 47

    Map of southeastern Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster and Lebanon counties with townships relating to owners of compass artist objects delineated.