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The Cabinetmaker’s Account

September 19, 2019 7:00 PM — 8:00 PM


Jay Robert Stiefel, historian of Colonial Philadelphia society and its material culture, will introduce the life and work of English emigrant joiner John Head (1688-1754). Head’s Philadelphia account book is the earliest and most complete to have survived from any cabinetmaker working in either Great Britain or British North America.

The culmination of nearly 20 years of research, Jay’s new volume serves as an essential reference work on 18th-century Philadelphia, its furniture and material culture, as well as an intimate and detailed social history of the interactions among that era’s most talented artisans and successful merchants. Commissioned by the American Philosophical Society and issued only a few months ago, the large-format, profusely-illustrated book is already one of APS’s best-sellers since it began publishing in 1771. It comes with a foreword by English furniture historian Adam Bowett, chair of the Chippendale Society, and an introduction by American historian Patrick Spero, APS director and librarian. Copies will be available for inscription.

An entertaining and witty speaker, Jay studied history at the University of Pennsylvania and Christ Church, Oxford. In February 2019, Oxford University designated Jay its “Alumni Author” of the month in North America.

Jay Stiefel will be in conversation with Gerald Ward, the Senior Consulting Curator and the Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Emeritus at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He has served as the assistant curator at the Yale University Art Gallery and as an editor at the Winterthur Museum. Ward is a past president of the Decorative Arts Society, a Fellow of The Pilgrim Society, a Proprietor of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, a member of the National Council of the Newport Historical Society, and has served as a member of the editorial boards of Winterthur Portfolio and American Furniture.

Free.  Advanced registration required. This program is supported in part by the Sally Lanagan Fund and grants from the Concord Cultural Council, the Lexington Council for the Arts, and the Lincoln Cultural Council –  local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Register here.


September 19, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm