Old Hadley

As I was adding the last few details to the first of the three panels, it dawned on me why the pattern seemed so familiar. I am building a “Hadley chest.”

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A “Hadley chest” by definition is a style of chest made circa. 1700 in Massachusetts or Connecticut, having front rails and panels carved in low relief with elaborate tulip, sunflower, and leaf patterns.

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The name given to this style of furniture was coined by Henry Wood Erving (1851-1941), a Connecticut antique collector. Erving purchased a chest in Hadley, Massachusetts as an antique in 1883. He wrote that “in talking with friends [about his collection of chests, he] always spoke of the first as my ‘Hadley Chest,’ a description others took up.” The term “Hadley chest” became the accepted name for this type of furniture.

Now, if the sun will just peek through the clouds, casting a modicum of light into the shop, I can start carving the tulip-panels!

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