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, the dressing table needs restoration.
The mirror that once hung between the shelves needs to be repaired and rehung; the marble top needs to be replaced; the finish has been stripped and will be replicated; and the drawer supports need repair so that the drawer can be returned to its original position.
An altered photo envisioning the table post restoration
is provided on the left.
This fine example from a leading furniture manufacturer
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. When the company had at its center
a talented artisan with the business acumen to
recognize a market for his creations that
transition was all the more likely.
Such is the case with this ca. 1855 dressing table by the Joseph Meeks & Sons (1797-1869) Manufactory.
The Meeks family produced fine furniture
when 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.
Photos of Meeks dressing table courtesy of Ed Houk.
Image of broadside for Meeks & Sons courtesy of Wikipedia.
Please help us restore the dressing table, a link to
America's history of craftsmanship.
You'll be joining a lead sponsor with a long-standing commitment to
Belmont's story -- an American story like few others.
The Big Payback runs May 5 - 6, 2021!