Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker
Never in my life, did I think I could possibly pair the word “blunder” with the name “Duncan Phyfe.” The Scottish-born artisan’s work as a cabinetmaker in the first half of the 19th century is beyond reproach. Let’s be quite frank: my own abilities will never equal those of Phyfe, period.
Tool chest inspired by Phyfe
That said, while working on a new audio slideshow on Phyfe, I was surprised to learn that card tables put out by the master and his contemporaries in New York, all suffered from the same structural problem which has resulted in cracks which, according to Hirschl & Adler Gallery’s Elizabeth Feld, are a telltale sign of the “genuine article.” OK, alright, I’m being a bit dramatic. Duncan Phyfe didn’t “blunder” anything. Knowing, however, that even one of the most gifted woodworkers ever to crank out a piece from the new world, made what some might consider “mistakes” makes me feel a heck of a lot better every time I utter a four-letter word after mis-cutting a dovetail or cracking a tenon. I guess even Duncan Phyfe was human.
Watch the audio slideshow below for a complete explanation regarding what I am now dubbing “New York Card Table Syndrome.” And to see Phyfe’s work up close and personal, New York City is currently home to two wonderful exhibitions:
|The World of Duncan Phyfe
Hirschl & Adler Gallery
The Crown Building
730 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
December 15, 2011 – February 17, 2012
Duncan Phyfe, Master Cabinetmaker in New York
Special thanks to Hirschl & Adler’s Elizabeth Feld, who so graciously allowed us to photograph, fondle, and admire a variety of original pieces by Phyfe and his New York contemporaries.
Two exhibits boasting original works by Duncan Phyfe are currently running in New York City.
Learn about the secret to authenticating early 19th-century card tables. Hint: it's all about the "crack."