Restoring the Work of an American Master
Museums tell stories. They share the stories of people, of events, of the past.
They also house objects. Objects of value, of beauty and significance. Objects which can help us connect to the past, and the people who created them.
Thus it was Belmont Mansion’s great fortune when one of the objects of this story returned to the mansion
this past fall. This piece of furniture, created by the
New York based master furniture maker
Joseph Meeks & Sons, was and is now
a sought-after design. It had resided in the Acklen family since its days at Belmont Mansion and through the family it returned to its first home.
Today, it needs restoration. This fine example from a leading furniture manufactor of the mid-19th century is an object of beauty which teaches us about the development
of the American furniture industry and craftsmanship.
With the help of technology, furniture
making moved from creation by an
individual to manufacturing at the hands of numerous craftsmen working for a single company surprisingly quickly. Especially when the company had at its center
a talented artisan with the business acumen to recognize
a market for his creations.
Such is the case with this ca. 1855 dressing table by the Joseph Meeks & Sons (1797-1869) Manufactory.
The Meeks family produced fine furniture
as ordered using patterns and templates. Then
highly skilled craftsmen finished the pieces
with elaborate hand carving. In the early days of the
American business economy this furniture maker's wares permeated the country with objects of
artisanal value made accessible through progressive business practices.
Please help us restore this link to American history and share it with visitors and students of the past alike.