Collections on Display
The design of this cradle is extraordinarily sophisticated. Most cradles at this time were made with far fewer turnings and panels. The cradle belonged to John Thacher, a prominent citizen of Yarmouth Port. It is not clear why Thacher owned such a high-status piece of furniture, although it may be due to his family’s particularly tragic history. In 1635, soon after they arrived in the New World, Thacher’s parents and their four oldest children were shipwrecked, and all aboard, except Thacher’s parents, were drowned. John Thacher was born four years later. Perhaps, in a family that knew such loss, the birth of a child had special meaning, which warranted a unique and sophisticated cradle. The story of the shipwreck was convoluted over time, and at some point it was thought that the cradle washed ashore after the shipwreck. The style of the cradle, which points to creation in the late seventeenth century, and the woods used, which are of American origin, tell us that the cradle did not arrive with the Thachers in 1635, but was made later.
Tall Case Clock
The design of this case clock, one of several owned by Mary Thacher, imitates the stylish cases of clocks made closer to Boston in the early 1800s, although this one was made later. Eliphalet Edson, a local cabinetmaker, made the case. He also made a variety of other furniture, including stands, desks, bedsteads, and occasionally, chests of drawers or card tables. He used primarily maple, birch, or pine, but also mahogany at times. The works of the clock were made by Allen Kelley, who purchased the case from Edson for forty-two dollars. Like much Cape Cod furniture of the early nineteenth century, the clock displays fine proportions and attractive lines, but is traditional in style.
This dressing table, in the Queen Anne style, is typical of furniture design in the first half of the eighteenth century. Its elaborate veneers showed the skill of the cabinetmaker. The drawers on the piece are dovetailed, but the frame is constructed using mortise-and-tenon joints. The wooden pins used are hidden on the front by the application of veneer. At first glance, it appears the veneer continues down the legs of the dressing table, but veneers could not be applied to the curved surfaces of the cabriole legs. Instead, paint was used to mimic the effect to of the veneered surfaces. The original finish is intact and is one of only two examples of this technique being used. Mary Thacher purchased this dressing table at an auction of items from the King Hooper Mansion in Marblehead, Massachusetts, in 1927.
Chest of Drawers
This chest of drawers was a relatively new form of furniture in seventeenth-century America, although they had become common by the end of the century. Chests such as this one were used to store textiles, while more decorative items might be placed on the fixed top. This chest has four drawers, with fronts made of boards with applied moldings designed to simulate panels. Chests made in this fashion were made in and around Boston. The primary wood used in the construction is black walnut. Other woods include Spanish cedar, white pine, and unusually for this far north, tulipwood. The brass hardware and iron locks are original. Mary Thacher purchased this chest of drawers and left it to a relative.
This clock, with works by Joshua Wilder, and a case attributed to Abiel White, was made in Hingham and Weymouth, Massachusetts. The works are brass and the movement is and eight-day time-and-strike. The clock was sold by Joshua Wilder to Ebenezer Loud, according to the bill of sale which is attached to the inside of the door.