PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF JANET AND RICK SHERLUND, NANTUCKET, MA
After living in Berwick, Maine and serving his apprenticeship in Watertown, Massachusetts, Forster moved to Charlestown in 1786. In 1793, he purchased land at the west corner of Main and Union Streets, on which he erected a large wooden building to house his cabinet shop.2 He worked there until circa 1810 and died in 1838, after which time his son Charles Forster (1798-1866) carried on in the business with Edward Lawrence, under the name Forster and Lawrence. Over the course of his career, Forster used at least two labels for his furniture, which he made in the Chippendale and Federal styles. One reads “J. Forster, Charlestown, Massa.” with the incomplete date “179__” printed below; the other reads “Jacob Forster, Cabinet Maker, Charlestown, Massachusetts, Where are Made, Tables of all kinds, In the newest and best mode, Desks, Book Cases, Mahogany Chairs, Sofas, Lolling & Easy Chairs, Clock Cases, &c.” The latter is signed by the printer, either Nathaniel Coverly, Sr. (c. 1744-1816) or Nathaniel Coverly, Jr. (c. 1775-1824) of Charlestown.
A chest with Forster’s dated label is published in The Magazine Antiques, June 1925, p. 316 as the property of Mrs. Albert E. Davies of Brookline, Massachusetts. Other labelled pieces by Forster include: a side chair in a private collection illustrated in Jonathan Fairbanks and Elizabeth Bates, American Furniture, 1620 to the present, 1981, p. 209; a work table illustrated in American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, Vol. II, p. 498, no. 1207; a card table at Yale University illustrated in David Barquist, American Tables and Looking Glasses, 1992, p. 191-93, no. 93; a lap desk illustrated in The Magazine Antiques, October 1944, p. 205; and two card tables illustrated in The Magazine Antiques, December 1929, p. 481, and June 1966, p. 775.
1 See Charles Montgomery, American Furniture, The Federal Period, 1966, pp. 87-8, no. 32, and p. 324. no. 287.
2 Timothy Sawyer, Old Charlestown, Boston, 1902.
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