This Saturday I got up at 4 am to head out on the road down to Haverhill, MA for Historic New England’s Boston Furniture Workshop. This was day one of the two day event based on the last Winterthur Furniture Forum. (Day two is next Saturday.) After a brief welcome by curator Nancy Carlisle, we were the recipients of a wonderful talk by Gerald W. R. Ward, curator at MFA Boston, titled “Pigeon Holes and Patriots: A Case Study of the Desk in Eighteenth - Century Boston”. Gerry discussed the importance of organization in desks and the role it played in New England society in the 1700s. He explained that the pigeonhole’s primary role was as a business organizing tool. He then compared this to containers and compartments for organizing important documents and keepsakes both prior to and following this period even up to the development of today’s digital storage devices.
The second presentation was of the collaborative efforts of conservator Christine Thomson and curator Tara Cederholm in researching “Japanners in Early Eighteenth-Century Boston”. Chris and Tara have been traveling to most of the 51 extant examples of period “japanned” furniture. Their goals have been to investigate for attribution purposes as well as to better understand the craft practice and techniques. During the course of their research, they’ve created a database of photos of figures and details from the surviving surfaces. I’m looking forward to hearing the result of their further research on the topic.
Mussey and Clark examining a Seymour chair
For each presentation we were able to view objects in the collection which were discussed by the speakers. This in-the-flesh time was invaluable for crystallizing the content of the talks. I look forward to next week’s presentations: Brock Jobe, Peter Follansbee, and more. Oh my. I can hardly wait. If you haven’t registered and would like to attend, check here for availability: Boston Furniture Workshops.
The Historic New England Haverhill facility at 151 Essex st.
The MA and ME "Patina" plates.