PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE FLORIDA COLLECTOR
Closely related to three other tea tables, this table, and its signature identifies one of the woodworkers involved in their production. No two of the tables are exactly alike, yet all display at least one component part this is identical to another. Thus, a comparison of the four tables reveals a complex interaction of at least two shops and specialized craftsmen who either worked in more than one shop or supplied separate shops with their turned and carved component parts. As Sanford is identified as a joiner rather than a turner, it is likely that the table was for the most part made in his shop. The turned pedestal, knee carving, and foot carving may also have been executed by Sanford, but could also have been done by as many as three different individuals. The knee carving is identical to that on a table in a private collection and was undoubtedly carved by the same hand, yet that table with birdcage support and variant cleats was clearly constructed in a different shop. Both tables also have identical shaping relieving the underside of the legs and base of the support and it is possible that the same craftsman who embellished the knees also provided the decorative detailing in these areas.
Two additional tables, one in a private collection and one whose location is unknown, may also have been made in Sanford’s shop. The table in a private collection has an identical top with a thin molded lip as well as the same knee carving, yet its pedestal, with a fluted column and a spiral-reeded ball, suggests the work of yet another specialized turner. With an elaborately molded rim and more extensive knee carving, the fourth table displays further differences, which while possibly indicating another shop, could also reflect variant designs made in the same shop or by the same carver. This table’s turned pedestal appears identical in both design and proportion to that on the Sanford table and was most likely executed by the same craftsman. The feet carving provide the final point of comparison. Those on the Sanford table differ from the other by having the lowermost part of the leg visually abutting the ball, with partial scribe line delineating the two elements. This contrasts with the other tables, which have the lower leg or outer tendons curving over the ball.
1 Wendell Garrett, “The Newport Cabinetmakers: A Corrected Checklist,” Antiques (June 1958), p. 560.
2 The advertisement reads, “To be sold by Joseph Sanford joiner and Joseph Smith, Living near the Point Bridge, Teneriffe Wine.” The Newport Mercury, June 27, 1763 (recorded under “Joseph Sanford” in the card catalogue at the Newport Historical Society).
3 Newport Probate Court Records, Book 1, pp. 214-215.
4 G. Andrews Moriarty, “President Joseph Sanford of Portsmouth, R.I. and His Family,” New England Historic and Genealogical Register, vol. 103 (October 1949), p. 272; “Notes,” vol. 104 (January 1950), pp. 73-75; Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database, www.newenglandancestors.org. Joseph Sanford’s sister Hannah (b. 1725) married Joseph Bailey (b. 1719), the brother of Constant Bailey. For more on Constant Bailey, see Ethel Hall Bjerkoe, The Cabinetmakers of America(New York: Bonanza Books, 1957), p. 36 and William C. Ketchum, Jr., American Cabinetmakers: Marked American Furniture, 1640-1940 (New York: Crown Publishers, 1995), p. 20.
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