Origin: America, Massachusetts, Salem
OH: 36½”; SH: 16”; OW: 60”; SW: 60”; SD: 23½”
Mahogany, bird’s-eye maple, white pine
Acc. No. 1971-380
Appearance: Rectangular settee with stuffed and upholstered back and seat with loose cushion; back crest with double arch and central, rectangular panel, each arch and panel veneered with birds eye maple, and outlined by bands of mahogany, the top reeded; reeding continues down sloping arms on each side, terminating at front in baluster shaped reeded arm supports; rectangular blocks below arms at seat; six legs (three at front and three at rear), each rounded, with tapering, reeded center section terminating in rounded spade feet.
Construction: Seat rails mortise-and-tenoned to legs; middle legs double tennoned to front and rear rails; 2 medial stretchers secured with sliding dovetails to front and rear rails. Front legs round tenoned to arm rests; rear legs rise up to form stile supports, top portion angled towards rear; back stiles screwed to supports. Back frame stiles sit in notches in seat rail, screwed to stiles 4 times per side (possibly not original screws) from rear; nailed two times per side from front; frame stiles notched to width of back stiles below lower tacking rail; lower tacking rail tenoned to frame stiles and pegged, screwed to triangular brace above rear middle leg which is screwed from above into rear seat rail from screw pocket; upper tacking rail also likely tenoned to frame stiles, not pegged. Back frame is dadoed on all four interior edges. Arm rests lap joined over frame and back stiles on outside and nailed; top of arm rest meets crest rail at a mitered butt joint; arm rests rabbeted for side panel upholstery tacking. Side panel stiles tenoned between seat rails and arm rests. Vertical tacking rail for arm panels lapped into outside faces of seat rails and inside faces of arm rests, likely glued. Horizontal tacking rail for arm panels sits in notches in arm panel stile and vertical tacking rail, likely glued. Crest rail possibly glued to upper tacking rail.
Upholstery: No original upholstery survives for this sofa frame. It has been non-intrusively reupholstered in green wool with tapered box edges on the back and arm panels, a removable seat cushion and four box edged back pillows.
Materials: Mahogany and bird’s-eye maple primary, white pine secondary
Label:Salem, a bustling port city in the early 19th century, was home to many wealthy merchants. Their fashionable homes were filled with fine furniture crafted by local artisans such as Samuel McIntire. The as-yet unidentified maker of this Salem sofa adapted a popular design found in Thomas Sheraton’s 1791 The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book, which illustrates a carved crest rail, also used by McIntire. Although Sheraton suggested that these sofas be finished in white and gold or japanned, this cabinet maker opted for a less expensive crest rail ornament constructed of mahogany with two arched and one rectangular bird’s-eye maple veneer panels, as was popular in New England. Rather than having raised pads as illustrated in Sheraton, the armrests are finished mahogany.
None of the original upholstery survives, yet physical evidence on the sofa strongly suggested that it was originally upholstered like those in Sheraton’s pattern book. The loose cushions along the back were intended to be rearranged for the sitter’s comfort.