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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Clay, Daniel
Culture:American (1770-1848)
Title:desk-and-bookcase
Date Made:1794-1800
Type:Furniture
Materials:wood: cherry, basswood, white pine; base metal: brass
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Greenfield
Measurements:overall: 89 x 41 7/8 x 21 3/8 in.; bottom (minus false top): 42 3/8 x 44 1/4 x 22 5/8 in.; 107.6325 x 112.395 x 57.4675 cm; upper: 47 3/8 x 42 1/4 x 12 3/4
Accession Number:  HD 80.100
Credit Line:Gift of Edgar M. Williams
1980-100t.jpg

Description:
Cherry desk-and-bookcase with white pine and basswood used as secondary woods. It was made by Daniel Clay (1770-1848) apparently for Elijah Williams (1767-1832), and descended in the Williams family until donated to Historic Deerfield by Captain Edgar Miller Williams (1889-1986). Edgar Miller Williams was the son of Admiral Clarence Stewart Williams (1863-1951) who married Anna M. Miller (1860-1955), the daughter of Dr. J. M. Miller of Springfield, Ohio, in 1888; his grandfather was Orson Bennet Williams (1834-1912), who was born in Ashfield and married Pamelia L. Floyd of Springfield, Ohio, in 1862; his great-grandfather was Samuel Barnard Williams (1803-1884) of Deerfield who married Mary A. Bennet (d.1839) of Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1834, and Caroline Johnson (d.1885) in 1844; his great-great grandfather was Elijah Williams (1767-1832) who married Hannah Barnard (1772-1853), daughter of Samuel Barnard (1721-1788) of Deerfield, in 1803; and his great-great-great grandfather was Dr. Thomas Williams (1718-1775) of Deerfield. This branch of the Williams family is also related to Elizabeth Williams Champney (1850-1922), a well-known writer of her period, who was the half-sister of Orson Bennet Williams and the wife of the artist, James Wells Champney (1843-1903). Born in New London, Conn., Daniel Clay probably trained in the Hartford area (or perhaps New York) with a cabinetmaker familiar with New York fashions; he moved to Greenfield, Massachusetts sometime before Nov. 1794, marrying Lucinda Smead in 1795. In 1794, he advertised in the "Greenfield Gazette" and had a paper label printed, two of which appear on the interior and exterior of this upper case: "CABINET WORK/DANIEL CLAY,/AT HIS SHOP IN GREENFIELD,/MAKES all kinds of Cabinet and Shop Join-/ery Work, and constantly/keeps an assortment on hand/which he will sell on reasonable/terms, for Cash, all kinds of/Country Produce & Lumber,/or approved Credit. Every/favour will be duly acknowl-/edged, by their humble servant,/Daniel Clay./November 4, 1794." He also made Windsors and fancy chairs, pembroke, dressing, and card tables; clock cases, candlestands, chests, and coffins. He expanded his business to include other ventures, but eventually all failed and he moved to NYC in 1832 to become a druggist. The flat-topped bookcase has a shaped cornice and dentil work over two paneled doors, which conceal an interor of eight pigeon holes over four shelves. Mid-molding is attached to the upper case (suggesting a New York influence) and supported by eight glue blocks affixed to the top of the desk when the two cases are combined. The lower case has a slant top lid, which reveals two units of four pigeon holes and three drawers, flanking a propectus of one shell drawer over two small drawers flanked by fluted pilasters. The lower case has three graduated long drawers and is supported on four ogee bracket feet. There are original and replaced brass bale pulls.

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