New Artifact-Focused Forum To Center On Material Culture Quarterly Series Will Begin With Jay Robert Stiefel’s "The Cabinetmaker's Account" On Jan. 24

January 4, 2019

The public is invited to be a part of the launch of’s new artifact-focused programming series, the Material Culture Forum. On Thursday, Jan. 24, participants will join curatorial staff for in-depth object studies of Lancaster County furniture followed by a presentation by Jay Robert Stiefel, who will discuss his new book, “The Cabinetmaker’s Account: John Head’s Record of Craft and Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753.”
English joiner John Head (1688–1754) immigrated to Philadelphia in 1717 and became one of its most successful artisans and merchants. However, his prominence was lost to history until the discovery of his account book at the library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. A find of great historical importance, Head’s account book is the earliest and most complete to have survived from any cabinetmaker working in British North America or in Great Britain. It chronicles the commerce, crafts, and lifestyles of early Philadelphia’s entire community: its shopkeeping, cabinetmaking, chairmaking, clockmaking, glazing, metalworking, needleworking, property development, agriculture, botany, livestock, transport, foodstuffs, hardware, fabrics, furnishings, household wares, clothing, building materials, and export trade.
Jay Robert Stiefel, historian of Colonial Philadelphia society and its material culture, will present the definitive interpretation of the John Head account book and introduce many other discoveries. The culmination of nearly 20 years of research, this new volume serves as an essential reference work on 18th-century Philadelphia, its furniture and material culture, as well as an intimate and detailed social history of the interactions among that era’s most talented artisans and successful merchants.
About the Event
The Material Culture Forum will be a quarterly series designed to lead small groups in an exploration of history through objects.’s curatorial staff will offer object studies using highlights from the collections, and guest scholars and lecturers will discuss new research related to regional history and its material culture, the objects and architecture that surround Lancastrians. Scholars, decorative arts enthusiasts, and curious learners are all welcome to attend this enriching program. Attend all four forums throughout the year, or choose one of a particular interest.
At 4 p.m., assistant curator Tori Pyle will present a close look and conversation about Lancaster County furniture, using objects from the collections.
At 4:30 p.m., special guest Jay Robert Stiefel will give a presentation of “The Cabinetmaker’s Account.”
The forum, “The Cabinetmaker's Account,” will be held at, 230 N. President Ave. in Lancaster, Pa. Tickets are $15 for members and $25 for nonmembers. To register, visit or call 717-392-4633. Sellout is likely; advance registration is recommended.
For questions or accessibility requests, call 717-392-4633 or email


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