March 30, 2009
Williamsburg-made antique sideboard table returns to Historic Area
An original hand-crafted 18th-century walnut sideboard table is returning to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area where it was produced more than 240 years ago. Guests will be able to see the sideboard table when it is installed in the dining room of the Thomas Everard House on Palace Green later this spring.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation purchased the sideboard—attributed to the Anthony Hay Cabinet Shop and crafted between 1750 and 1770— from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts of Winston-Salem, N.C. The purchase also included a breakfast table, circa 1800-1815, attributed to William Little of Sneedsborough, N. C. The antiques were purchased with funds from the Sara and Fred Hoyt Furniture Fund.
The Anthony Hay Shop attribution is based on similarities in the shape of its legs and feet with two unfinished chair and table legs that were uncovered during a 1963 archeological excavation at the Anthony Hay Shop on Nicholson Street. “The archaeological artifacts were unfinished pieces,” said Tara Chicirda, Colonial Williamsburg’s curator of furniture. “We believe they were discarded at the shop due to mistakes made during their fabrication.”
Three different masters owned the shop between 1751 and 1776: Anthony Hay, Benjamin Bucktrout and Edmund Dickinson. Because of the difficulty in pinpointing which of the three cabinetmakers oversaw the production of the unfinished legs, the attribution of the sideboard table is to the Hay Shop, as it was called during the period, rather than to a specific maker.
Colonial Williamsburg holds in its collections a small number of tables and chairs attributed to the Anthony Hay Shop. Products made in Williamsburg are important to the foundation for research purposes and for display in the exhibition buildings in the Historic Area. The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts has other examples of furniture by the two makers and determined that these items could be offered for sale to other institutions.
“Following a thorough evaluation of our own collection, we are pleased to make it possible for the Hay Shop sideboard to return to its place of origin,” said Robert Leath, chief curator and vice-president of collections and research for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.
Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.
Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.history.org.