Getting the word out about several upcoming programs I’m involved in. 

First up is a virtual event supporting the current exhibition at the Center for Art in Wood, Tom Loeser: Please, Please, Please curated by Glenn Adamson. The event is free and open to everyone. It takes place July 14th, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm. I’m pleased to join John Lutz, the General Manager of George Nakashima Woodworkers and Emily Zilber, the Director of Curatorial Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at the Wharton Esherick Museum in a discussion of chairmaking in Philadelphia. I’ve been asked to talk about the history of chairmaking in Philadelphia since the English and European colonization of Pennsylvania. 339 years worth of history. In fifteen minutes. I’ll talk fast.

The Center for Art in Wood’s location at 141 North 3rd Street in Philadelphia was once surrounded by cabinet and chairmaking shops in the eighteenth and early ninteenth centuries. The area continued to house small independent shops and suppliers to the woodworking trades into the twenty-first century. But little of that history remains. AA Abrasives, Inc. at 121 North Third Street is one of the last remaining businesses catering to the wood trade (as well as metalworkers, etc.)

The John Grass Wood Turning Company, located at 146 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, ceased business operations in 2003. The Company was founded in 1863 and operated at this site from 1916 to 2003.


In October the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) will hold its annual symposium in Philadelphia, postponed from 2020. The horological focus will be on the American Revolution. Themes of the talks will focus on timekeeping, timekeepers, and clockmaking during the revolution from international perspectives.

 “A full roster of eminent speakers has been recruited” reads the press release, however awkward it makes one feel to be so described. I’m speaking on clock case making in colonial Philadelphia. The schedule for the symposium is now online. 

Schedule for Day 2 of the NAWCC Symposium.

The summer issue of Antiques & Fine Art will include my article concerning mid eighteenth-century Philadelphia compassed chairs with blocked front seat rails. Three of these chairs owned by Howard Reifsnyder sold at the auction of his collection in 1929.  Because of the publicity the sale received, along with the spirited and competitive bidding during the sale, the chairs were given the soubriquet “Reifsnyder chair.” Over time, any Philadelphia compassed chair with blocked front seat rails from any set came to be referred to as a “Reifsnyder chair.” While many chairs from sets other than the set the three Reifsnyder chairs belonged to have come to light since the early twentieth century, the Reifsnyder chairs never reentered the marketplace, nor have they been otherwise published. During the survey of a compassed chair with a blocked front in the collection of the Dietrich American Foundation I was able to determine the current location of the actual chairs illustrated in the Reifsnyder catalogue. In a future blog post I will offer further details about the five sets of Philadelphia blocked front compassed chairs.

The “Reifsnyder chairs,” lots 653-655. Colonial Furniture, The Superb Collection of The Late Howard Reifsnyder. Catalogue, American Art Association, Inc. 1929.

3 thoughts on “News

  1. Hi Christopher We will be visiting Philadelphia 26-28 June with grandchildren. I would like to find a convenient time to visit with you about the Addis family of carving tool makers. I am also forging carving tools from roller bearings. Please let me know if this is possible and what time options will work for you. George Blackman Oregon 541-619-0487 or email

    Sent from my iPhone


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