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Welcome to SAPFM

For more than 20 years, The Society of American Period Furniture Makers has been committed to providing our members with the best in fine furniture making education.  We provide this service through our symposiums, publications, chapter meetings, and on-line resources. 

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 severns

Scott Severns

SAPFM President

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As we continue to define our new “normal for now” and work to solve issues many of us have never experienced, we can still walk into our shops and find some sense of normal. Personally it is my favorite place to be, there is nothing quite like the smell of coffee and sawdust.

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Visit our Members Gallery to view the many fine pieces built by SAPFM members. Many are museum reproductions. We hope that among these many masterworks you will find inspiration for your next build.

 

 

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American Period Furniture Throughout the Decades

 

Enjoy the Many Benefits of SAPFM Membership

Members enjoy the following benefits.

  • A subscription to our annual American Period Furniture Journal mailed each December
  • A subscription to our quarterly Pins & Tails e-magazine.
  • Participation in all local chapter events
  • Eligibility to attend SAPFM confrences and particapte in SAPFM exhibitions
  • Access to on-line resources including our library of articles, past issues of Pins & Tails e-magazine, and more
  • An online gallery where Members' work is displayed
  • Our online Members forum

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Article Index

Further Furniture & Architecture Comparisons

 

The mixture of a classical gadrooned and pierced cornice with the superbly carved rococo bolt covers and naturalistic hairy paw feet places this bed firmly in the Philadelphia tradition of the 1770’s. Every part of the bed matches the description of the best bed available from The 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book.

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The high rococo Chippendale, serpentine-front wing armchair is now recognised and celebrated as the General John Cadwalader armchair and seen as a masterpiece of Philadelphia carving.

This was not always the case. The chair had previously been dismissed by curators at both the Winterthur and Philadelphia Museums, classifying it as nineteenth- century and late English, respectively.

The bulbous rear feet are not a form usually associated with Philadelphia work, and were probably intended to house robust castors.

The hairy paw feet have separated toes similar to the card table in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but unlike all the other hairy paw feet.

CB37
Cadwalader Easy Chair, 1770, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The fetlock carving is particularly interesting. It is described in the Cadwalader Study as; “a pronounced clump of hair, which tapers to a point (whose form resembles a claw).”17

The fetlock hair on the bedstead feet is carved in the same manner as that described on the Cadwalader easy chair.

The furnishing and decoration of the Cadwalader home was such a huge and prestigious commission that it necessitaed a hitherto unknown level of cooperation between cabinet shops and carvers that would normally have been in direct competition.

It is precisely this level of cooperation that makes the firm attribution of carving very difficult. This is further compounded when more than one carver can be seen to have worked on the same piece of furniture.

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Rear of bed hairy paw foot.

Carving of the acanthus knees and canopy have direct and compelling comparisons with known carvings by Nicholas Bernard and Martin Jugiez from the late 1760’s.

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High chest, unidentified cabinetmaker with carving attributed to Martin Jugiez, 1765-1775, compared to detachable knee of bed. (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
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Canopy carving compared to carved detail of the ear on a side chair attributed to Nicholas Bernard, 1755-60 (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

 

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Comparison of detachable knee to architectural keystone carving in St Peter’s Church, 1763.
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Comparison of bed bolt cover to keystone carving in St Peter’s Church, 1763.

 

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Comparison of carved collar on bed post to keystone carving in St Peter’s Church, 1763

Similar carving to the St Peters keystone and bed knees the acanthus carving by Bernard & Jugiez can be seen in the door consoles at Cliveden and in the drawing room at Mount Pleasant.

CB44
Chimney piece console, Mount Pleasant - 1764.
CB45
Flower heads on detachable bed knees.

As Luke Beckerdite has detailed in his Philadelphia Carving Shops Part II - Bernard & Jugiez, “The flower in the lower left corner has a cylindrical centre with a gouged out impression in the top of it and veining like that on the flower on the chimney piece consoles at Cliveden”18 This same treatment is seen on all of the flower heads carved on the bed.

In 1769 Bernard & Jugiez adorned the house of Samuel Powel with the same carvings.

This acanthus carving can also be seen used on the turned vase of tea tables and fire screens attributed to Nicholas Bernard & Martin Jugiez.

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Stevenson tea table, 1770
CB47
Cadwalader tea table, 1770

 

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Cadwalader fire screen, Chipstone Foundation (left) & Cadwalader tea table right).

Another striking comparison is the shaping of the cornice which follows known patterns of Philadelphia bed and window cornices circa 1770.

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Many pieces of Cadwalader furniture are yet to be discovered. These may well throw more light on the relationship between the various pieces and the workshops and carvers involved. The hairy paw foot is a very rare form for the period but can be seen used by a number of carvers employed by Thomas Affleck (1740 -1795) and Benjamin Randolph (1721 - 1791) on the furniture produced for Cadwalader between 1769 -71.

The hairy paw foot is a very rare form for the period but can be seen used by a number of carvers employed by Thomas Affleck (1740 -1795) and Benjamin Randolph (1721 - 1791) on the furniture produced for Cadwalader between 1769 -71.

A common feature on much Cadwalader furniture is the distinctive hairy paw foot clutching a flattened ball seen on chairs, tables and fire screens. Philadelphia furniture looked toward London as the height of fashion. However, by 1770 the hairy paw foot was not a fashionable form (its use predominantly found in Ireland). It may well be that John and Elizabeth Cadwalader adopted the use of a hairy lion paw from the particularly hirsute lion seen on the Lloyd family crest. Interestingly the use of a wolf, also a hairy quadruped, on the Cadwalader family crest means the use of a carved hairy paw could be considered appropriate for both families.

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Hairy paw foot of bed

What we now term a "hairy paw" foot was referred to in the eighteenth century merely as a claw foot. The price of carving such a foot was explained in The 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book-- claws for tables, chairs, tea tables, and chests were billed at only 1s 6d each, these being carved not by the master but by a journeyman. As a bedstead had larger legs and feet the charge rose to 2s.19.

The division of labour within the same piece of furniture is a noted Philadelphia practice where different carvers can be seen to have worked on the left and right side of the same chair.

Work that is not as close to the eye (such as the bed canopy) would be executed by a journeyman not as skilled as his master.As the complete furnishing of the Cadwalader mansion was such a huge commission this division of labour made economic sense.

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Luke Beckerdite suggested that "there is a continuous thread of shop practices that make it possible to attribute work to a specific carving shop and even isolate individual hands in that shop.”

Talking of the easy chair he said, “It is my belief that the chair was carved in (James) Reynolds' shop, just as I believe the two serpentine card tables were carved in Reynolds' shop and the fire screens in Bernard and Jugiez's. But at least two carvers worked in each shop. That's how we account for the differences in the two card tables - they were probably carved by two different carvers working in Reynolds' shop."20 He believes one side of the chair was carved by one man, the other side by another.

CB52
Removable leaf-carved knees.

This same workshop trait can be seen on the carving of the bed, a different carver working on the left and right bolt covers.

The carving on the bed corresponds closely with that seen on several of the pieces known to have been part of the Cadwalader suite. The distinctive foot with its inward facing two digits and swirling hair on the second knuckle can be seen on both the bed and the highly ornate rococo chairs in the Winterthur and Metropolitan Museums.

CB53
Comparison of saddle-seat side chair foot (left) with foot of bed (right).

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