This piece was constructed to go in a local historic site in northwest Georgia, a mansion built by a Cherokee Chieftan in 1804, so the period had to be correct. The original of this piece was made around 1790. The last 2 photos show it in its home in the historic house, the latter while the house was decorated for Christmas candlelight tours.
The house is part of a plantation that was owned by James Vann and later his son , Joseph. Vann's father was a Scottish trader and his mother was a Cherokee. The elder Vann, James, was the first to bring Moravian missionaries, who arrived in Georgia in 1735, into Cherokee country to educate the children in the late 1700s. We have a very good history of the times from the extensive Moravian diaries, some of which are only today being translated from the old German. He was murdered when his son, Joseph, was 14. "Rich Joe" Vann apparently inherited his father's business acumen and eventually owned 3 plantations in Ga and TN, numerous mills, ferries, toll roads, taverns, etc., and was considered one of the richest men in the south. President Monroe visited in 1819 to meet this fabulously wealthy Native American.
A few years back, I learned that one of my great, great grandfathers had owned the house and surrounding acres 1875-1879. Then I found an old deed where a different great, great grandfather bought 160 acres of the former plantation in 1841, not long after the Cherokees were removed in 1838 (Vann saw it all coming and left for Oklahoma in 1832. He was to be prosecuted and his lands confiscated by the state because he had hired a white man as overseer of his slaves - state law prohibited Indians from employing whites! They had waited for years to confiscate his property and finally got him with this infraction).
So, a family connection that I never knew about. I got interested, became a docent, became more involved and was elected to the Board of Trustees. I also learned that that same great, great grandfahter had also owned property where one of the forts used to assemble the Cherokees for the Trail of Tears was previously located.
During the Candlelight Tours last week, I learned that my maternal grandfather's uncle owned the house for a short time in the mid-1800s. So, yet another family connection.
I do some repair work on some of the antiques in the house. They want me to fix a cracked leg on a Queen Anne highboy that was appraised at near $80K - no way ! I have made a couple of other small pieces for the house.
I did this in walnut, although the original from the 1790's was mahogany. This was my first try at the trifid form of Queen Anne feet, and they turned out to be easier than I expected. The legs are considerably slimmer and the knee more angular than other QA legs I have done. I recessed the aprons 3/16" from the legs simply because I like the depth it gives. In order to use veneer on the drawer fronts I used flush fitting drawers rather than overlay as in the original and added a cockbead molding to protect the edges of hte veneer. The half blind dovetails were hand cut, of course.
In the interest of tradition, I used a number of antique tools; one of the spokeshaves used on the legs was my great-grandfather's, as was the Stanley #6 and the dividers (seen in the hanging tool cabinet), all 100+ years old - he lived on a hill 1/4 mile from the historic site, on the 160 acres purchased in 1841. Hide glue, naturally.
I used drawer slips and beveled bottoms, as in the original. The finish is Transtint brown mahogany dye at 1/4 strength, followed by tung oil, then 3 coats of 50/50 satin/semigloss varnish. I would love to do another of these in mahogany; I would do a lot of things differently - I suppose that happens to us all; maybe someone will want to pay me to build another! A second go at it would take about 1/2 the time.
The last photos show it in place in the historic site. Dining room by candlelight, with lowboy in background.
Interesting to note that the exterior wall behind the lowboy is 24" thick - solid brick, made on the property. The interior walls are 12" thick, also solid brick.