Hand Tools Archive

some data to test hypotheses *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Maybe they used knotty, figured lumber because that's what they wanted. Maybe clear straight grain was boring to them.

What we probably know-

The "they" and the "them" were makers and customers living a days wagon ride from Philadelphia. The people that study this sort of stuff say the furniture makers mingled, bringing the latest fashion from port to country.

Period advertising shows competition between makers in Chester Co and the city. A competitive advantage advertised was the benefit of free delivery and other advantages of shopping locally. Claims usually made for equivalent quality, lower price. What's changed?

Some Chester County Furniture is knot-free, figured but with harmonious figure, plain grain next to knots and figure, knots in sides and clear fronts, every permutation you can imagine. I have never seen a curly maple piece with a knot from anywhere. None of the Chester Co pieces from cherry have knots.
One theory will not cover this range variety.

The Period furniture we desire today was probably made for the wealthy and was probably show off pieces. It has survived because it was not used daily to store socks. Rather it presided over the parlor to please the owner and impress the guests. You rarely see anything but carefully chosen lumber for these pieces.

What I don't know is what did the furniture were they stored their socks look like.

What we would regard today as unacceptable knots show up in Chester Co furniture over at least a 100 year span. They show up in Greene County TN furniture, rural south furniture. I don't have rural New England books. My book of rural Canadian furniture is knot-free but there are no walnut pieces shown. Knots and walnut seem to go together.

Indeed some might thing that a knot in the midst of this inlay scene adds to its beauty. Or, the maker didn't have a clear board wide enough. For someone that sold lumber for 30 years the choices remain curious. I have found some 1800's lumber marketing data but not studied it yet.

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