Casing the joint

Independent furniture scholars Robert Mussey and Clark Pearce recently spent two days at Historic New England’s Collections and Conservation Center poring over examples of furniture made in Boston between 1815 and 1830. The two are working to identify and codify the work of the cabinetmaking shops Vose & Coates (also Vose Son & Coates, or Vose & Son) and Emmons & Archibald. Having already thoroughly analyzed and documented a bed at the Codman Estate that was almost certainly purchased by Charles Russell Codman from Vose, they were particularly interested in a sideboard that belonged to the Norton family that is nearly identical to a labeled example by Emmons and Archibald.

Both scholars were extremely pleased with what they found. According to Pearce, “the sideboard pushed us into a place where we now understand the difference between Vose and Emmons & Archibald case pieces. We understood the differences between pier tables and card tables, but we hadn’t yet gotten a handle on case pieces. The Norton sideboard clarified our understanding of the differences between the workmanship of the two shops.”