Shepherdstown, West Virginia
H: 44″; W: 38.5″; D: 21.75″
An excellent example of the Shepherdstown school of artisans working in the Scots-Irish tradition. Derived from British precedents, case pieces from this area are generally made from local woods, plainly but well-constructed with a vertical emphasis and restrained embellishment. This chest exemplifies these traits in its sound construction, narrow but tall case, pert stance and and shaped skirt. Shepherdstown cabinetmakers produced a regional version of “neat and plain”.
Several early market towns were established in the Upper Potomac River Valley (from Harper’s Ferry north into Maryland and Pennsylvania) and Shepherdstown emerged as one of the region’s important commercial centers. The town was built on a series of springs that provided water and power to the shops of millers, tanners, potters, smiths and other artisans. The town was prosperous enough to support several cabinetmakers, though little research has been done in this area. There are only a handful of signed pieces from the area but MESDA has identified a group of makers from advertisements. The most prolific of these was a shop initiated by William Eaty in 1797 and continued by Shepherd and Woods in 1810.