Cellaret or Bottle Case
Walnut
Joseph Freeman (1772-1842)
Gates County, North Carolina
C. 1815

The “Rossetta Stone” for the group of bottle cases attributed to Joseph Freeman is the fine documented example now in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection which was purchased from the Freeman Family via a local dealer. c 1941.  This bottle case descended through three generations of the Freeman family and remained on the family farm in Gates County until entering the CW collection.  The distinctive and unique construction characteristics clearly define the approximately ten other Freeman bottle cases that have been subsequently identified.  Most are nearly identical in size and finish. Other key common features include: double beaded lid moldings mitred and sprig nailed; dividers that are inserted from the top and suspended on notched strips nailed to the case interior; tongue and groove battens – slide and lid; and the occasional presence of a center section to accommodate decanters and glasses.

Joseph Freeman worked as a carpenter, farmer and cabinet maker and his career can be partially traced through his account books and journals.  Freeman’s shop  produced a range of vernacular furniture though few pieces have been identified and none, to date, with the refinement and appeal of his cellarets.  See  MESDA Research Files D-33307; S-29768;S-2548 &  Southern Furniture, Hurst and Prown.

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