Cadwalader V the furniture expert 

Over the past 4 years of researching the Philadelphia bed made for General John and Elizabeth Cadwalader only one objection keep coming up.
“The bed is English”. 

Made in Philadelphia between late 1768-70

This has been a frustration as the beds mechanics show clearly that the secondary timbers are traditionally used in American Antique Furniture making unlike the lack of Oak, Pine or Mahogany which is expected to be used on a quality piece like this made in 18th Century Britain.

With all the other research and evidence which clearly connects to the surviving Cadwalader paperwork from the craftsmen involved with the refurbishment of there new 2nd Street home. 

They bought 1768  for which they wanted the furniture and interior to have a English feel of the last fashion from the UK but made in Philadelphia.

New evidence came to my attention back in Oct last year thanks to Christopher Storb WordPress ( 30th October 2016) a conservator at The Philadelphia Museum of Art which his blogs on the Strawberry Mansion longcase clock that had been on long-term loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art before going to Christie’s New York for sale No 2414 in 24 January  2011 Lot 59.

Strawberry mansion clock Christie’s 2011

From Mr Storb article shows a number of image of the clock hood mainly the facade but for the last one is showing the back and its construction.

Strawberry mansion clock hood back by C Storb

The arched section dovetailed across the back got my attention. The markings left by a chip out of a plan iron, marks I had see before and they are very pratical.

I found the clock and got the Curator to send me a wax rubbing of that hole back piece.

Wax rubbing back of the clock hood

This rubbing I took to the bed in storage and did a brown rubbing taken from the back of the bed canopy.

Brown rubbing from the bed canopy over laid the clock rubbing

Once done I over layed then to see and they were a perfect match with sizing and execution. 

This means one thing that the canopy and clock section had been planed by the same man with the hand tool. In fact the piece on the clock is a off-cut from the bed 

Showing the chip line which were left by a craftsmen

This is clear evidence that the bed was made in one workshop in Philadelphia and with the connection and attributation to James Reynolds who carved the clock. Then its more than likely  constructed in Benjamin Randolph shop between late 1768 -70.
Scholars have talked about the importance of evidence left by tools marks from the craftsmen in Colonial furniture which again we don’t see on English 18th century period furniture of this quality.

This evidence and method will open up new research plus the opportunity of finding of other Philadelphia piece with these markings which are all time relative that can be put into this one workshop, one craftsmens, one chip plane iron 

Timothy Garland 

Lincoln UK

14 May 2017 



4 thoughts on “Cadwalader V the furniture expert 

    1. As part of my on going research both experts Luke Beckerdite and Alan Miller both talk of the speed to produce goods in the best Philadelphian workshop between 1760-1775 that they didnt waste time planing new section of timber if a piece was available.
      Hence why the bolt covers are more or less made out of solid mahogany 9″x11″ ×10″ drop.
      These peice are made and constructed with anomalies compaired to English pieces of this period


  1. I can imagine at what speed they must of worked at, if I planed all the boards at one time, by the time I would finish one project the board would of cupped for the next project. So instead I just plane each part separately and go from there, besides it really does take a toll on the body and a full day to plane all the boards by hand and not to mention the monotonous boredom.


    1. The trouble was that Colonial Philadelphia was and had been very short on timber which is recorded in 1759. As the deforestation around was not just for furniture making but heating building etc etc. Hence why Philadelphia become so wealth with merchants was trading with the Jamaican Islands etc which brought in the best Cuban mahogany and Spanish Cedar (Cedrela) also known in the 18th century as Red Cedar to which has been used on the Canopy of the Cadwalader bed


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