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 Masters of the 18th Century

Master Woodworkers of the 18th Century
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  Now my own personal favorites are from the Philadelphia School of cabinet makers, which may be due to the fact I was born in Philadelphia, and often work on the very streets that housed the shops of these craftsmen. My most respected of the Philadelphia School, is hands down, Thomas Affleck. A Scottsman, Affleck arrived in the United States in 1763. His work can be seen in some of the remaining historic homes, built for the wealthy merchants and politicians of the times.


Philadelphia School of Cabinet Makers

In addition to furniture making, he was also a skilled joiner, providing architectural millwork for some of the finest homes in Philadelphia. My dear friend, Jefferson Clark would often take his students to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as part of his design course at Drexel University. He and I used to take day trips to the remaining houses from that period, and study the works of Mr. Affleck, as well as his pieces in the Art Museum. It would always surprise Jeff, when we approached the display of the 18th century furniture, and from a distance, I could pick out the Affleck pieces. Jeff would go to the piece and check the attribution plaque, to verify my claim. He got to the point, he would just take my word for it.

Affleck was, again in my opinion, so far ahead of his contemporaries, I found it rather easy to identify his pieces. While the styles and techniques were pretty much they same, the Affleck pieces shouted out, "look a me". The grain was always much more wild and pronounced, and more difficult to work, but they out shined the neighboring pieces by a factor of ten. I believe that is why he chose the woods he did. Simply to cement his position as number one. The tax records in Philadelphia showed that Affleck was by far the most sought after and employed maker in the city. 

What really disturbs me, is the fact so little is known about these makers, and the talent they possessed should receive such a small amount of acknowledgement. Someone who is as gifted as they were, should never fade away into oblivion.

Written by: Lee A. Jesberger © 2006 - 2010
Inventor of: Ezee-Feed Systems ®   


Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Period Furniture Details Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Period Furniture Details
Building, carving, and turning techniques for 18th-century furniture This new paperback expands on the techniques covered in Shaping Wood. It covers joinery relating to 18th-century furniture sty.. 

Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Period Furniture Details

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