This report identifies through detailed analysis a long-lost masterpiece of American furniture: The four-poster bedstead made for General John Cadwalader and his wife Elizabeth Cadwalader (nee Lloyd) in Philadelphia, circa 1769-70.
The timbers are shown to be mid-American.
The original varnish has been identified as compatible with eighteenth-century urban America.
The structure of the bed is consistent with Philadelphia manufacture, with the detachable carved knee typical of the best Philadelphia rococo beds.
Moreover, the workshop style is that of Benjamin Randolph, with a rare form of hairy paw foot found on much of the Cadwalader furniture.
The details of the bed and an associated tea table strongly relate to designs in the Lloyd family silver owned by John and Elizabeth Cadwalader, brought from London.
Original tool marks and later upholsterer’s pencil marks can be closely compared to other pieces of the Cadwalader suite.
A walnut repair is compatible with a documented early repair to the post of a Cadwalader bedstead.
A trapped early fabric strand has been found. It is red, the same colour as documented for the original drapes of the principal Cadwalader bed.
Infra-red photography has revealed a series of original ink inscriptions underneath the stain and varnish on the reverse of the proper left bed bolt cover ‘II’. The large and distinct inscription identifies as ‘Caps Bedstead’ & ‘John Cadwalader’.