Harbor & Home

Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710–1850

Brock Jobe, Gary R. Sullivan, and Jack O’Brien

Through furniture, this exhibition catalogue will explore the cultural identity of a little-studied region of 18th and 19th century New England: southeastern Massachusetts, an area that stretches from just south of Boston to Providence, east to the tip of Cap Cod, and includes the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The era between 1710 and 1850 was marked by enormous changes in the landscape, population, and economy of this area, as well as in the activities of furniture craftsmen and the purchasing patterns of local residents. Three themes are paramount here: 1. Regionalism in the character of furniture made in the area and the forces that shaped that identity. 2. Fashion, changing tastes and the growing affluence of local residents over time. 3. Shop practices and the evolving craft practices of furniture makers through the recreation of two shops, the rural handcraft tradition of Samuel Wing of Sandwich in 1800 and the mechanized operation of a New Bedford or Fall River chair factory in 1850. The exhibition will include approximately 75 pieces of furniture from private and institutional collections, tools and equipment from the Samuel Wing cabinet shop (now owned by Sturbridge Village), and selected household furnishings depicting interiors in southeastern Massachusetts during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Cloth: $60
ISBN-13: 9780912724683
Pages: 458 | Size: 9 in. x 12 in.
Date Published: March 1, 2009


  • Using furniture and other artifacts, diaries, and account books, the study introduces us to the men who made their living in seafaring commerce and to the craftsmen of the region. . . . Harbor and Home . . . focuses the attention . . . on the heritage of southeastern Massachusetts.

    Maine Antique Digest
  • Harbor and Home contains rich documentation of the best of 18th and 19th century clocks, chests, chairs, desks, and dressing tables. Readers are treated to rarely seen pieces from outstanding private and public collections.

    Collectors Journal and Country Pleasures Magazine
  • For too long the work of the cabinetmakers of southeastern Massachusetts sat in the shadows, labeled 'good' or 'better' against Boston and Newport 'bests.' With this book, the reassessment of furniture long attributed to Boston and Newport can begin, grounded in solid scholarship, as we rediscover the work of craftsmen who 'crafted careers as solid and useful as the furniture they fashioned.'

    Winterthur Portfolio
  • Harbor & Home is an important and accomplished work in merging the decorative arts of Massachusetts’ coast to the local histories that created them. . . . While Jobe’s 1984 publication New England Furniture: The Colonial Era gives one of the finest overviews and looks at the entire region, Harbor & Home carries this scholarship to a new level. . . . Harbor &Home will easily appeal to the decorative art collector of Americana, but is also a certain must for the professional or scholar in both New England and Americana decorative arts. Brock Jobe’s passion for the subject and region, along with his scholarship distilled from years of work, are on full display in Harbor & Home.

    Historical Journal of Massachusetts
  • Wallace Nutting lamented in 1928 that southeastern Massachusetts had been so picked over by dealers and collectors that it had become the 'least likely of any region to yield old furniture.' However, this new study by Brock Jobe, Gary R. Sullivan and Jack O'brien, assisted by a cadre of other authors, proves that Nutting was mistaken. Harbor & Home provides a rich contextual examination of the cabinetmaking and clockmaking crafts in this area from 1710 to 1850, linking the area’s furniture to Boston and Newport while defining its own distinctive characteristics. It will surely become a standard text in the literature on regional styles in early American furniture.

    Gerald W. R. Ward
    The Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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