Books from MESDA

The Furniture of John Shearer: 1790-1820
"A True North Britain" in the Southern Backcountry

By Elizabeth A. Davison 

This book is a full-color catalogue raisonne that interprets the distinctive furniture made by John Shearer, one of the most accomplished and intriguing furniture makers during the post-Revolutionary period. Shearer emigrated from Scotland to the American South in the late-eighteenth century and retained loyalist sympathies throughout his life, as evidenced by the imagery and inscriptions on his furniture that reflect British causes. Elizabeth A. Davison provides insight into the furniture's appeal to Anglo-American patrons, not secret loyalists, but men and women still culturally tied to Great Britain.

This catalog is the only work in which all of Shearer's known pieces of furniture are presented. Published by Alta Mira Press in partnership with MESDA, the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.

$90.00.  2011. Hardcover; 220 pages with full color photography throughout. 


WH Cabinetmaker: A Southern Mystery Solved


By Thomas R. J. Newbern and James R. Melchor


The mystery of the "WH" cabinetmaker has been solved. For forty years furniture scholars have puzzled over a compelling group of furniture made during the 1780s and 90s in eastern North Carolina with the initials "WH" prominently - and perplexingly - displayed on their pediments. Who made the furniture? Who or what was "WH"? Many theories were put forward, but none solved the mystery until now.


2009. Softbound, 294 pages;; 428 photographs, most in color

Southern Perspective: A Sampling from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts


Since 1965 the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) has been instrumental in bringing to light the merits of previously ignored southern craftsmen. In celebration of MESDA's fortieth anniversary, forty objects from the MESDA collection have been selected for this striking catalog that combines informative essays with  stunning photography. 


2005. Softbound, 96 pages; 96 full-color photographs

The Furniture of Charleston, 1680-1820


By Bradford L. Rauschenberg and John Bivins, Jr.


An unprecedented three-volume comparative study that combines a survey of surviving furniture with thorough biographies of the craftsmen to produce the most comprehensive analysis of the early furniture trade in Charleston, South Carolina. 


2003. Hardcover in slipcase, 1500+ pages; 1400+ photographs and illustrations, many in color


Quilts, Coverlets, and Counterpanes: Bedcoverings from the MESDA and Old Salem Collections


By Paula W. Locklair.


Exhibition catalogue featuring thirty-nine 18th- and 19th-century bedcoverings, most from the South.


1997. Softbound, 72 pages; color photography


Henrietta Johnston: "Who greatly helped... by drawing pictures"


A catalog of pastel portraits by the earliest identified woman artist in America.


1991.  Softbound, 72 pages; 48 photographs, 14 in color.


The Regional Arts of the Early South


By John Bivins, Jr., and Forsyth Alexander


A catalogue of the collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), representing furniture, architectural interiors, painting, metalwork, ceramics, and textiles of the South before 1820.


1991. Softbound, 170 pages; 275 photographs


Tennessee Silversmiths


By Benjamin Hubbard Caldwell, Jr.


The geography, history, and settlement and trade patterns of Tennessee, with the skills of the silversmiths themselves, contributed to the development of a distinctive regional industry. Caldwell brings together information about Tennessee silver and its makers before 1860, shedding light on the often unique style of the region. An indispensable addition to the history of American silver.


1988. Cloth, 278 pages; 372 photographs



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