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Working Wood in the 18th Century
Desks: The Write Stuff

Joiner's Shop
None Upcoming
None Upcoming
None Upcoming
Open to Public
Advance Registration Required

Explore the design, construction, and evolution of 18th-century desk forms. The 17th annual Working Wood in the 18th Century conference features demonstrations of the techniques involved in re-creating examples of iconic pieces. Participate in lectures and discussions as experts examine the changing approaches in Anglo-American case construction and design running the gamut from typical to novel.


Drawing primarily from the Colonial Williamsburg collection, the staff of the Anthony Hay Cabinet Shop will demonstrate the re-creation of three desks that span the first three quarters of the 18th century.

Bill Pavlak will reproduce an escritoire originally built by Edward Evans of Philadelphia in 1707 (the earliest known signed and dated piece from that city).

Brian Weldy will illustrate the construction of a block front desk, that quintessential New England form, with a surprising history of manufacture in the Norfolk, Virginia area in the 1770s.

As a comparison and contrast to this, Kaare Loftheim will walk attendees through a Norfolk desk and bookcase that shows the structural refinements more typical of urban English shops of the same period.

To bring guests to the closing years of the century, featured presenter Robert Millard will explore the construction and decoration of one of John and Thomas Seymour’s iconic Lady’s Tambour Writing Desks.

Highlighting examples from our extensive collections, Tara Chicirda, Colonial Williamsburg’s curator of furniture, will kick off the conference by setting all of this in context.

Additional Topics

  •   Constructing a desk on frame—Ted Boscana, joiner

  •   Casting and engraving William & Mary hardware—George Suiter, master gunsmith

  •   A discussion of Luther Sampson’s recently discovered joiners shop in Duxbury, Mass.—Jeffrey Klee, architectural historian

A dinner program featuring master carpenter Garland Wood will focus on the recent construction of the massive armory complex and its three workshop buildings.

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